In case you missed it, there has been quite the tiff going on between college football players and everyone involved in NCAA Football by EA Sports. The lawsuit was initiated by former players and current players alike, all alleging an unauthorized appropriation of their images on the popular NCAA Football video game. That game makes millions and millions of dollars every year, but the royalties that EA Sports pays go through the Collegiate Licensing Company, and then to the NCAA. The players, however, don't see any of that money.
With this settlement, current players still don't get to see any of that money. That's right, even though a settlement was reached between players and the men upstairs, only former players are going to get anything out of this settlement. The current estimate is that there are roughly 125,000 former players who are going to get a piece of the settlement pie, whatever that is. Wonderful. However, the buck doesn't stop there.
The real problem lies in those current players that are featured, or have been featured in the past on the game. This is where the conundrum lies. The NCAA is adamant that it will not pay players money. Getting settlement money from this lawsuit apparently falls right in the middle. That right there is the reason that, thought EA Sports and CLC jumped ship and settled, the NCAA is going to fight this thing until the court system tells them to stop.
There are various opinions on both sides of the debate that centers on whether or not college athletes should get paid. I'm not here to say yay or nay on this issue ... that would take too much time, and is beyond the scope of this article. However, one thing that cannot be argued is the fact that the NCAA opened the door for this lawsuit.
What kills me is that all the NCAA did to "eliminate profiting from the players" was simply to call them by their numbers. Well, there's several problems with that strategy. First, the players numbers are still being used to identify them. Next, each player's hometown is listed. Furthermore, each team is scouted, and the players physical characteristics, from weight and height, all the way to appearance is replicated on the game. I'll put it this way: the fans know who these players are. That's why they buy the game each year.
But, if that were it, the NCAA might still have a case ... It gets better.
Now, mind you this doesn't have anything to do with video games, it has everything to do with how the NCAA has continually opened the door for this law suit. The NCAA was making a killing on jersey sales with popular players. However, it wanted more, so it made player jersey's searchable by simply typing in a player's name. Until a couple of months ago, it used to be that you could find you favorite player's number by searching his name. However, as soon as people found out, that ability was no longer available.
So, under this guise, the NCAA makes money off the players, millions of dollars, and refuses to pay players any of it in an attempt to keep the players' amateur status. If that amateur status is lost, a completely new headache is created, since there will need to be a ton of new regulations created. Futhermore, it brings agents into the mix, along with any other sleazebag you can think of, enter Willie Lyles. Let's face it, the NCAA does not want to go there.
Now the NCAA is forced to take this suit all the way to the end. If the courts rule that the NCAA doesn't owe any money to the current players, Mark Emmert will avoid cutting a big check. On the other hand, if the court rules the other way, look for EA Sports to jump back into the picture.
This thing is far from over, but the stakes are amazingly high. It could be the end of "amateur" status for college athletes. It could be the end of my favorite sports game ever. One thing is for sure, there's a whole lot yet to come, and it's not going to be pretty for the NCAA. Just think, a lot of this could have been avoided if the NCAA wasn't so greedy.