Ed O'Bannon Jr.

Report: EA Sports, college athletes agree on settlement of $40 million


Video game manufacturer and NCAA licensing partner EA Sports has reached a $40 million settlement with college football and basketball players for improperly using the likenesses of athletes, according to a report from ESPN.com‘s Tom Farrey.

The settlement was reached with a federal court in Oakland, California on Friday night and it leaves the NCAA alone to defend itself in the upcoming antitrust trial spearheaded by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon.

The settlement could deliver up to $4,000 to as many as 100,000 current and former NCAA athletes who appeared in EA Sports college basketball and college football video games since 2003.

“I’m thrilled that for the first time in the history of college sports, athletes will get compensated for their performance,” said Steve Berman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs to Farrey. “It’s pretty groundbreaking.”

Berman represents former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller and 77 percent of this latest proposed settlement would go to players represented by Berman. O’Bannon’s class of players would receive 12 percent of the settlement while former Rutgets football player Ryan Hart and former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston would receive the final 10 percent for their group of players.

O’Bannon, Keller, Hart, Alston and all other named plaintiffs will also receive payments between $2,500 and $15,000 for their time and efforts in representing the classes in the case.

The settlement still needs approval from U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken, and if it is approved, the lawyers in the case will receive up to one-third of the settlement funds, or $13.2 million, plus a maximum of $2.5 million in legal fees.

If Wilken approves, former players in EA Sports video games since 2003 will be alerted to the availability of payments and will need to register to collect. Each player will use a formula based on how many years they appeared on rosters in EA Sports video games. Lawyers representing to plaintiffs estimate that there are approximately 140,000 to 200,000 annual roster appearances in all three classes.

Some current college athletes would also be due compensation under this proposed settlement and the legal outcome creates a new dilemma in the NCAA’s quest to keep athletes from profiting from the use of their images as athletes.

An agreement in principle happened last September through Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Corporation, but issues held up the proposed settlement. The NCAA objected to their co-defendants leaving and the lawyers representing the three different classes of players couldn’t agree on the financial aspect.

In September of 2013, EA Sports announced that it’s college football series would be placed on hiatus with no new game coming in 2014 while EA hasn’t made a college basketball video game since NCAA Basketball 2010.

This is a landmark settlement as college athletes look like they’ll finally claim some money for their NCAA likenesses appearing in video games and it sets up an interesting court battle between O’Bannon and the NCAA in the upcoming antitrust lawsuit that is scheduled to begin on June 9th.

Details of Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State contract released

Gregg Marshall (AP Photo)
Gregg Marshall (AP Photo)
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Back in the spring, back before Alabama had hired Avery Johnson and Texas had decided upon bringing in Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall was the hottest name on the coaching carousel. He had turned Wichita State into a top 15 program, one that had reached a Final Four and won 35 straight games in the previous three seasons.

There was speculation that the Longhorns would make a run at him, but it was Alabama that tried first, reportedly offering Marshall a blank check, telling him to tell them what he was going to get paid.

Marshall turned it down, accepting a deal to remain at Wichita State that was reported to be worth $3.3 million annually for the next seven years.

This week, the Wichita Eagle obtained a copy of Marshall’s contract. The details:

  • Marshall will be getting paid $3 million annually until 2018, when that number jumps up to $3.5 million. He’s under contract through 2022.
  • He has performance bonuses that could¬†reach more than $450,000.
  • Not that Marshall would ever be fired by Wichita State, but his buyout is massive: $15 million until he’s owed less than $15 million on his contract, at which point the Shockers would have to pay him the remainder of his salary.
  • But if Marshall decides to leave, he only has to pay the school $500,000.

So if you were wondering why Marshall decided not to leave Wichita, it’s because he’s making more than Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan and slightly less than Indiana head coach Tom Crean this season.

Arkansas returns to underdog role after offseason arrests

Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson (AP Photo)
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas coach Mike Anderson says he was “blindsided” by a tumultuous offseason for the Razorbacks, one that included the arrests of three players on allegations of using counterfeit money.

Still, entering his fifth season at Arkansas – his 22nd overall at the school, including 17 as an assistant – Anderson remains optimistic the program can build on last year’s second-place finish in the Southeastern Conference.

Led by SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis, the Razorbacks finished 27-9 last season and reached their NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

The excitement-filled season was the culmination of four years of rebuilding for Anderson, though the school took a step back afterward following the early departures for the NBA of Portis and second-leading scorer Michael Qualls.

That was only the first step in a difficult offseason for the Razorbacks.

Starting point guard Anton Beard, forward Jacorey Williams and transfer Dustin Thomas were arrested by Fayetteville police in July, accused of using counterfeit $20 bills and exchanging counterfeit $50 bills for $100 bills.

Williams was dismissed in August, while Beard and Thomas have been suspended from the team and remain enrolled in school awaiting trial.

“I think if you’re in it long enough, you’re going to have some of those things take place,” Anderson said. “I was kind of blindsided by some of it, I’ll say that. … When it happens, I think the measure of, not only the person but the program, is how you deal with it. And I think we’re dealing with it in the right way.”

With Portis and Qualls’ departures, as well as the graduation of Ky Madden and Alandise Harris, Arkansas enters this season without four of its top five scorers from a year ago.

The lone returner in that mix is senior shooting guard Anthlon Bell, who averaged 7.9 points per game last season while shooting 35.1 percent on 3-pointers.

Bell’s outside ability is something the Razorbacks expect to use often this season without the interior scoring touch of Portis, and because the revamped roster features several top shooters – including Texas Tech transfer Dusty Hannahs and heralded freshman guard Jimmy Whitt.

Anderson said they’re also likely to run more this season in order to try and manufacture easy offense through defensive pressure.

“We’re still going to play Hog basketball, 40 minutes of Hell,” Bell said.

Anderson wouldn’t comment in detail on the arrests of Beard or Thomas, but he did say he talks with the two while they’re on suspension. He also said they are continuing to work out on their own, with the hope of being reinstated after the legal process plays out.

In the meantime, Anderson is embracing a return to the underdog role after last season’s breakout – calling the reversal a “challenge” and insisting “We’re not going backward.”

“It’s unfortunate that we had some individuals that, No. 1, they (did) some things that hurt the team,” Anderson said. “But at the end of the day, let’s see how these other guys respond.”