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E.A. Settles, Trouble Looms For NCAA

College athletes have put in years of hard work, some dating back to middle school, to refine their skills in a particular sport with aspirations of playing at the next level (NFL,NBA,MLB,etc). While some actually attain that dream of playing professional sport, there are the hundreds of thousands who don’t reach that level and are thrown into the realms of irrelevancy, athletically, that is.

Those players, beaten and battered all for naught, are left wondering if it was all worth it. Meanwhile, the NCAA has made billions of dollars from these college athletes and is not very fond of sharing. These players deserve at least some compensation for the work. And while some are playing via scholarship, it is not enough.

reggie-bush-p1For years, much has been made of college athletes receiving monetary rewards for their play on the football field.

There was the case of Reggie Bush in 2010 where the University of South California (USC) was forced to give back their 2004 national title, and Bush was made to give back his 2005 Heisman award on the suspicion that he, and his family, had received a plethora of benefits from sports agents.

There was also the case of Jim Tressel, former head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who resigned after the NCAA alleged that he had turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the rule violations occurring on his team. An estimated 28 players over the course of 9 seasons were reported to have exchanged autographed memorabilia for tattoos and cash.

More recently, before the start of the NCAA season, the “Johnny Football” fiasco occurred, where Johnny Manziel was discovered to have received monetary rewards in exchange for autographs over the summer. During this situation, various media pundits, including ESPN’s Jay Bilas, expressed sentiments via twitter highlighting the hypocrisy with which the NCAA treats their student athletes. Bilas brought to light how the NCAA makes billions of dollars selling current and former player’s jerseys online without giving any of that money to the players who made the jerseys popular. The situation caused a huge uproar on twitter with thousands of Bilas’s followers tweeting about the blatant hypocrisy exhibited by the NCAA. Soon after, the NCAA removed the search bar from their website completely.

This past week, things have hit the fan aggressively.

According to sources at espn.com, EA sports and Collegiate Licensing Company have come to a 40 million dollar settlement with former players who were bringing suit to the company. EA sports, is responsible for the popular college sports video game series “NCAA.”

It is unknown how the money will be spread out amongst what is believed to be between 200,000 and 300,000 former players.

The attack on the NCAA is being spearheaded by former NCAA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, who previously played for the UCLA Bruins in the early 90’s. Bannon was a part of the 1995 national championship team in his tenure with UCLA. He went on to play for the New Jersey Nets for two years then traveled to Europe until the end of his career.

The O’Bannon lawsuit has been going on for more than 3 years now. On July 22nd, 2009, O’Bannon brought suit to the NCAA. A statement from the suit read “While the NCAA, its member conferences and schools, and its for-profit business partners reap millions of dollars from revenue streams …, former student athletes whose likenesses are utilized to generate those profit centers receive no compensation whatsoever…” (ESPN)

Since then, 6 current college athletes joined the law suit along with O’Bannon. Arizona State’s linebacker Jake Fischer and kicker Jake Smith, Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham, Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson, and Minnesota tight end Moses Alipate and wide receiver Victor Keise.

The addition of these players enhances the chance that the return from the NCAA, if they lose the suit, or settle, would be in the form of millions of dollars.

Now that EA sports and CLC are no longer defendants in this lawsuit ESPN reports that the NCAA will be taken to trial by the former players who seem to be aggressively pursuing major returns from the league.

Rob Carey, a lawyer on the plaintiff’s side, believes there is substantial legal precedent in the aftermath of the Johnny Manziel case this past summer.

After the NCAA elected to suspend Manziel for the first half of the first game of the season, they also told him he could keep the cash that he collected.

But, the NCAA is not intimidated. The NCAA’s chief legal officer, Donald Remy, let it be known that the NCAA is willing to take this matter to the Supreme Court if need be. That makes for a very long battle for O’Bannon and the players backing him, for matters that go to the Supreme Court do tend to take a very long time.

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