After announcing Thursday that it will not release its college football game next year and may not do so in future years due to litigation regarding the use of the athletes' names and likenesses, Electronic Arts Inc. — along with Collegiate Licensing Co. — announced it had settled class-action lawsuits on the matter.
One of the cases in which EA has settled includes one filed by a group of former and current college football and men's basketball players led by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon. Terms of the settlement were not released.
Thus, the NCAA is left as the lone defendant in the case surrounding the use of athletes' names and likenesses, and it appears that the governing body is ready for a fight even if it goes to the Supreme Court, as it announced that it has beefed up its defense team.
This past summer the NCAA announced that it wasn't going to renew its contract with EA after next year due to business reasons and litigation costs. However, it was assumed that EA would just drop the “NCAA Football” tag from the title and keep making the game as long as individual schools or conferences continued to oblige through CLC. But that will no longer be the case now with EA discontinuing the popular game.
Each player who has appeared in games produced by EA in the last decade are now eligible for settlement money. This will affect more than 100,000 current and former college players who have appeared in the games, although it is unknown if getting settlement checks would affect the eligibility of current student-athletes. The NCAA currently requires student-athletes to sign the rights to their likenesses to the association.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.