Matthew Edge

$40 million settlement with EA Sports ‘rights a huge wrong’


Even as the potentially game-changing O’Bannon lawsuit gets set to go to trial in a week or so, an agreement has been reached that will put (a little) money in the pockets of some current, but mostly former, college athletes.

As the Associated Press wrote Saturday, “[a] $40 million settlement has been completed that will pay college football and basketball players dating to 2003 for the use of their likenesses in NCAA-branded video games.” The settlement, however, does not include the NCAA and only involves video game maker Electronic Arts as well as Collegiate Licensing Company.

Back in September of 2013, EA Sports announced it was pulling the plug on the popular video game series featuring college football and men’s basketball.  The next day, the first reports of a settlement surfaced.

While $40 million seems like a significant amount of money, the fact that the pool of potential claimants could reach six figures dilutes the amount of payout on a per-person basis.

Depending on how many athletes apply for the settlement — a group that attorneys say could contain between 140,000 and 200,000 players who were on football and basketball rosters from 2003 on — the payments could range from as little as $48 for each year an athlete was on a roster to $951 for each year the image of an athlete was used in a video game.

Still, one of the lead attorneys for the players hailed the landmark settlement, which will mark the first time college athletes have been paid for the commercial use of their images..

“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of this settlement and the opportunity to right a huge wrong enacted by the NCAA and EA against these players and their rights of publicity,” said Steve Berman. “We’ve fought against intense legal hurdles since filing this case in 2009 and to see this case come to fruition is a certain victory.”

The AP goes on to note that U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken still must approve the proposed settlement.

Wisconsin announces 10-year agreement with Under Armour

Joel Stave
Associated Press

What has long been rumored became fact Friday, as Wisconsin announced a 10-year agreement with Under Armour.

“I am absolutely thrilled about our new partnership with Under Armour,” AD Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “Kevin Plank and his team have established a brand that fits perfectly with the Wisconsin athletics story and culture. Our primary focus at Wisconsin is, of course, our student-athletes, and Under Armour’s passion and commitment to high quality and innovation will benefit our student-athletes for years to come. Our entire department is looking forward to a long and mutually productive relationship with the Under Armour team.”

The new deal will pay the Badgers a total of $7 million in cash and product in 2015-16 and is valued at $96 million over the life of the contract, good for second in the Big Ten, trailing only Nike’s new contract with Michigan.

Hidden within the contract are two nuggets that UA offered to sway the Badgers away from Adidas, from the Portland Business Journal:

Wisconsin will get as much as $500,000 from Under Armour to “rebrand” athletic facilities. It’ll get $150,000 to build out an Under Armour retail space in a campus gift shop called Bucky’s Locker Room. It also gets two summer internships for students at Under Armour’s Baltimore headquarters.

“The University of Wisconsin is an institution built on the highest values of academic excellence, and we are extremely proud to be teaming up with one of the most vibrant, distinctive and successful athletic programs in the country to help elevate the performance of all Badgers with innovative footwear and apparel,” added Plank.

Wisconsin’s departure continues to weaken the stronghold Adidas had built in the Midwest after losing Michigan to Nike and Notre Dame to Under Armour in recent years (the company still owns apparel rights for Indiana and Nebraska). The Badgers are now the 41st Division I athletics department and 17th FBS program to join UA.

Video: There’s nothing wrong with Cardale Jones

Getty Images

In the minds of some in the media and even more in the fan base, Ohio State in general and Cardale Jones specifically have been underwhelming through the first five games of the 2015 season.

Jones, in particular, has been a rather large target of much of the angst.  Coming off a Cinderella-like three-game postseason run that helped OSU to a national championship, the perception is that Jones has been underwhelming and underperforming; even head coach Urban Meyer appeared to be leaning in that direction as he considered making the switch to J.T. Barrett prior to the Western Michigan win before reaffirming his commitment to the redshirt junior.

Is that perception valid?  Statistically, he’s not that far off from where he was in the 2014 postseason, at least in a couple of categories.

He’s completing 61.3 percent of his passes this season compared to 59.4 percent in the games against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon.  It was 9.9 yards per attempt in that three-game stretch last season, 8.2 in five games this season.  When it comes to scoring and turning the ball over, however, that’s another matter entirely.

He threw a touchdown pass every 15 pass attempts in the 2014 postseason; this season, it’s one every 21 attempts.  Even more glaring, he’s currently throwing an interception every 21 attempts as well.  During the run that made him a household name, it was one pick every 37.5 throws.

So, fewer touchdowns plus more turnovers equals validation of the angst, right?  Not so fast, at least as far as the college arm of Pro Football Focus goes.