Sam Keller

NCAA revenue jumps closer to $1 billion

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Every penny counts, and the NCAA made a lot of them in 2014. In financial numbers released Wednesday, the NCAA showed a revenue of $989 million in 2014. With $908 million in expenses, the NCAA netted a surplus of about $80.5 million.

Compared to the previous fiscal year for the NCAA, the net surplus is about $20 million higher in 2014. As you might suspect, the 2014 surplus is the largest in NCAA history. So where did all of that money come from?

Approximately $753.5 million in revenue came through various television and marketing rights fees. An additional $114.8 millions came from championships and NIT tournaments. It should be noted the College Football Playoff and bowl games are not included under NCAA revenues as the NCAA is not associated with the bowl system or the College Football Playoff beyond sanctioning them as official postseason games and record keeping.

Of the $908.5 million in expenses, $547 million was distributed to Division 1 schools. A total of $34.7 million went to Division 2 distributions, championship expenses and other programs. Division 3 championship expenses and distributions amounted to $28.7 million. The NCAA also set aside $158 million for legal expenses, an astronomical number.

The details regarding large payouts to be made from losing legal battles is also outlined. A $70 million payout from a concussion lawsuit is undergoing negotiations with insurance providers. The settlement amount has not been 100 percent finalized, so there is still time before the NCAA has to commit to the funding for the concussion lawsuit. The NCAA says a “combination of insurance proceeds and settlements with third parties” to settle the $20 million owed as a result of the Sam Keller video game likeness lawsuit.

One notable lawsuit the NCAA has not yet put into a calculator is the impending amount due from the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. The NCAA is appealing a previous verdict so there is more to the fight before having to worry about the expected loss that could be rather significant.

These numbers come out as the NCAA is about to hold its biggest annual moneymaker, the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Last year’s Final Four was held in Arlington, Texas in AT&T Stadium. This year’s game will be played in Indianapolis, with a smaller venue and fewer seats to fill, and tickets to be sold.

“Great big venue and lots of people attending,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said, per USA Today. “It will be hard to achieve that same result in a somewhat smaller venue this year.”

Just imagine if the NCAA had taken control of the college football postseason years or decades ago. They would be seeing some monster profits from that as well.

NCAA settles video game lawsuit for $20 million

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The college sports world is focusing on the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit now in the trial stage starting today. Before that lawsuit officially opened, the NCAA announced it had settled another lawsuit, which was slated to get started after the conclusion of the O’Bannon trial.

The NCAA reached a settlement in the video game lawsuit led by former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller by agreeing to pay former college football and basketball players a total of $20 million. This lawsuit was split from the O’Bannon lawsuit and is not related to the $40 million settlement previously reached by EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company. Though not directly tied together, the outcome of that settlement was something the NCAA felt inclined to act on.

“With the games no longer in production and the plaintiffs settling their claims with EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, the NCAA viewed a settlement now as an appropriate opportunity to provide complete closure to the video game plaintiffs,” said NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy.

The NCAA will split the settlement money to an undetermined number of former college athletes at division one schools that may have been tied to the video games. Not every football or basketball player will end up seeing a cut, but odds are prominent players will definitely be expecting a check at some point in the future. The final details of the settlement still need to be determined.

Double trouble for NCAA? O’Bannon lawsuit split in two

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The NCAA tried all it could to avoid a potentially damaging trial, but the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit will officially go to trial on June 9. The starting date was previously scheduled but is now set in stone after U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken denied a motion by the NCAA. Now the NCAA will have another trial to prepare for in 2015 after the judge split the O’Bannon lawsuit into two separate cases.

As reported by USA Today, Wilken formally separated the anti-trust case led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon from another case focusing on college sports video games led by former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller. The two cases were lumped together as the O’Bannon lawsuit gained traction among former players, but now the NCAA will likely have more legal battles ahead of it. The Keller lawsuit is now set to go to trial in March 2015. The focus of the O’Bannon lawsuit will still be on the use of player likenesses and names in other forms for promotion, advertising and more.

While the case will now be split into two different categories, Wilken did not approve a request by the NCAA to have all evidence related to video games to be used in the first trial, the O’Bannon trial. That could turn out to be a major advantage for the plaintiffs in the O’Bannon lawsuit, as the revenue generated from the NCAA-licensed video games (primarily the NCAA Football video game franchise produced by Electronic Arts) is nothing to omit. EA Sports canceled the production for a version of its popular NCAA Football franchise this year, even after initially losing the NCAA licence from the college equivalent to the Madden NFL franchise.

In the end, the results of the O’Bannon lawsuit could set the tone for the Keller lawsuit in March. If the NCAA takes a loss in the O’Bannon lawsuit, the desire to settle out of court before heading to trial again in March may rise. If the NCAA wins the O’Bannon lawsuit, then the likelihood it shies away from the Keller lawsuit will dwindle as well.