Monday, September 30, 2013

EA and Collegiate Licensing Co. settle with former players in NCAA likeness litigation; NCAA only remaining defendant.

EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company, defendants in the NCAA student-athlete likeness antitrust litigation, settled all claims with former and current college players. The defendants are paying the plaintiffs $40 millionThe case has not been certified as a class action, so this was a good time to settle. If the defendants waited until a ruling on the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, they could have lost a significant amount of leverage in settlement negotiations, and they did not have much leverage at this point anyway.

The NCAA has not settled. It is the only remaining defendant, and publicly shows no indication that it intends to settle. I would be surprised if the NCAA allows the case to go to trial. The NCAA is banking on denial of the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. It also expects more public support as the case draws closer to trial.

Publicly, the NCAA claims it is prepared to go down with the ship; either college sports stays the same or the current model will be replaced with a minor league sports model. To college sports fanatics, of which there are many, this existential threat should garner the NCAA more public support as trial draws closer. Privately, the NCAA must be examining its options for settlement and how it would affect the current NCAA model.

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