Cough It Up: NCAA Reaches $20 Million Settlement
By Mike Crocker
If you're like me, you love sports video games such as EA Sports' Madden NFL Football. Have you ever dreamed of how amazing it might be to become one of the players in these types of sports games? Well what if you were?
The NCAA and other video game companies make millions of dollars selling these types of video games, while their game's athletes sometimes can't even scrape together enough change from their couches to buy a pizza. If professional athletes get compensated in this fashion then why not collegiate athletes? That's been the ongoing problem between the NCAA and former players who have been actively seeking that very same compensation.
Ed O'Bannon, a former UCLA basketball star, has been one of the faces for collegiate athlete compensation, and with a legal group by his side they have been making historical strides. So far this ongoing lawsuit has yielded a total of $60 million in three separate settlements with Electronic Arts, and two other additional companies. More recently O'Bannon's group has reached an additional $20 million settlement with the NCAA itself to pay former basketball and football players who had their likeness and images used in video games.
The NCAA's main concern is keeping a sense of amateurism throughout college sports in terms of its rules regarding players and compensation. While this may be a historic landmark case for NCAA players actually getting reimbursed for their play on the field, I can't help but feel this was just an act of good faith by the NCAA. While $20 million is still a nice chunk of change, there is still a part of me that thinks they could have gotten much more. University of San Francisco economist Daniel Rascher testified during these court cases and laid out a business model that proposes a portion (about 10%) of the incredibly lucrative television deals, high-end coaching salaries, and even facility upgrades could be used towards a hypothetical college player's salary. The opinion on that specific proposal remains to be seen, but the statistic Rascher revealed in addition to his business proposal was jaw dropping. Rascher cited a statistic collected from the U.S. Department of Education that revealed Division-I basketball and FBS college football programs took in an astounding $4.5 billion during the 2012-2013 season
He went on to cite additional sources of income that would increase that figure, but regardless of this absurd amount of money the fact still remains that NCAA athletes who "put on the show" and bring in all this dough receive $0.00 of any of that money. There are a lot of pros and cons to this issue, some of which can tug on your heartstrings in terms of fairness and even cases of financial stability, but if we keep treating players like they are these widely popular professional athletes, they are going to want to be compensated like professional athletes. With television deals the way they are, and the increasing popularity of college sports in the United States this trend only looks to continue, which will intensify the issue of collegiate athlete compensation further. Sure Ed O'Bannon may have won the battle netting a cool $20 million dollars for a future athlete based trust fund, but pushing to secure even 10% of that $4.5 billion lump sum would go a lot farther towards winning the war.
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