A lawsuit filed against the NCAA's licensing authority by Ed O'Bannon (pictured), the former member of UCLA's 1995 national championship team, will be allowed to go forward, but it's already had its effect on college sports simulations.
O'Bannon's suit against the Collegiate Licensing Company, whose exclusive agreement with EA Sports makes that studio the only one publishing NCAA sports games, survived a motion to dismiss on Monday and could have a gargantuan effect on how the association and its member universities and conferences use the likenesses of former players after they graduate.
'Bannon's claim began when he saw a representation of himself in a basketball video game."They literally played me on a video game," O'Bannon told Yahoo! Sports. "You could play the '95 Bruins. It didn't have my name, but it had my number, left handed, it looked like me. It was everything but the name. My friend kind of looked at me and said, ‘You know what's sad about this whole thing? You're not getting paid for it.' I was just like, ‘Wow, you're right.' It just kind of weighed on me.""
But that use of his likeness seems to be no longer an ongoing concern. EA Sports' NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball titles routinely featured historic or all-time greats rosters comprised of unnamed players who still bore heavy resemblance to a school's past stars. Not this year. They were left out of both games, probably because of O'Bannon's suit, even though EA Sports is not a party to it.
O'Bannon's suit doesn't cover the use of the likenesses who are current players and covered by the NCAA's amateurism regulations, which prohibit an athlete receiving such compensation. Conceivably, if O'Bannon were to prevail, any use of a former player in a video game would have to be compensated and that would drive up the cost of the licence. It's easy to see why EA would just say screw it pre-emptively, as the majority of the game experience is delivered through playing current teams and rosters.
Former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller has filed a similar suit, however, and EA is named as a defendant. The firm representing O'Bannon is attempting to link his case with Keller's. Both are class-action suits.
O'Bannon Case Could be a Game-Changer [Dan Wetzel on Yahoo! Sports]