More Troublesome Documents Released in NCAA Player Likeness Lawsuit

Posted November 13th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Nearly two months ago a series of damning emails were made public in the player likeness lawsuit against the NCAA, CLC, and EA Sports. The important piece of info there was the acknowledgement that the NCAA and EA Sports had neared an official agreement that would have allowed player names to be included in their licensed video games. Now additional documents have been unsealed showing the NCAA was well aware of, and openly discussed, real players being the basis of the characters represented in the games. 

A July 2003 internal email shows NCAA Director of Corporate Alliances Peter Davis relaying this response he received on whether EA Sports uses current football players’ names in video games: “We don’t actually use player names but we do use all the attributes and jersey numbers of the players.” Davis’ e-mail went on to raise the point that if Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning got injured, the video game roster would reflect that change. Davis expressed concern whether using Manning’s number and attributes would be too close to his likeness and cause an eligibility issue.

The NCAA Football series has never had roster updates so that comment is a bit perplexing. Otherwise though the comments there and elsewhere go to show the level of awareness regarding player representations and how they knew they were toeing the line. They also realized for good reason if they failed to do so the games probably wouldn’t exist and the money from the licensing and the ability to cultivate new fans would be lost.

The NCAA was making only $4-8 million a year on the video game contracts. That number would be much higher if payouts had to be made to players and would likely prohibit any company from making any college-based video games. Already no one wants to take on college basketball given the low sales potential, high development costs, and concern over this very lawsuit. The NCAA Football series could also be in danger as sales have stagnated and this year fallen sharply. Without “real” players involved the potential for digital revenue is severely hampered.

The lawsuit is the culmination of two high profile filings that were combined as led by Sam Keller and Ed O’Bannon. It alleges improper use of player likeness through various forms of merchandise and media including video games in which the parties in question conspired to avoid paying players for their rights. Some interesting details and claims regarding the case at hand were revealed when EA was reentered as a defendant after initially being dismissed.

EA has won a previous case regarding player likeness with the courts ruling video games are artistic works rather than commercial speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court last year established forms of media, producing expressive works of art, are not subject to judgments based on incorporating someone’s name or likeness.

This consolidated case in California looks as though it will be going much further and ultimately be the determining factor of how the NCAA proceeds in the future handling broadcasting rights, merchandising, and video games. Should a negative result come down, which one analyst has pegged as being a potential loss of $1 billion for EA, it would likely not just end the NCAA Football series but also with it any realistic possibility of college sports games being made in the future. The NCAA is currently seeking to block classification as class action. The trial now is stated to begin June 2014.

  • Max

    Hey pastapadre im wondering if theres going to be a patch on the BCS standings

  • Just can it already EA. NCAA Football stopped being a great franchise at the turn of the next gen.

    • Sean Russell

      Give customizable Draft classes like NBA 2K does and scrap NCAA. It’ll save you the money and you can spend more time making Madden better.

      • Guest

        There ain’t enough time in the world for EA to try and make Madden any better. This is their absolute best effort possible…and it is garbage.

    • Wake Up

      I think all EA football games stopped being “great” at the turn of next gen.

  • MoneyMayweather

    do the right thing judge and touch EA”s exclusive contract with the NFL.

  • Crimson

    There ya go Pasta. You can do it. You can post these types of articles and still it won’t kill your close relationship with EA. You don’t always have to post those boring weekly Madden ratings articles to generate site traffic. Remember, you’re in control here, Pasta. Not EA Sports. Its your world here. They may get mad at you, but the fact remains that they desperately need your continued contributions in helping to keep people interested in their boring football games. You’ve been doing quite a great job at it too. You kinda remind me of a car salesman I once knew. He was so good at reselling old junk cars, that he could talk people into buy anything on the lot, kinda like what you did here for EA, with Madden NFL13.

    • That car salesman line is a riot, LOL!

      • Crimson

        Thank very much. I’ll be headlining here in Vegas all week.

    • Dick Johnson

      What do you do for a living just sit at your computer and bitch about video games. Fucking loser

      • Crimson

        I sit here looking at old faded home videos of your dad and some ugly orangutan having sex. Oh look, dad and the orangutan both look so happy in this one. Oh, how sweet, here’s a clip of them bringing a new baby home. That must be you.

      • No Dick Johnsons here

        What do you do, Dick Johnson? Do you just sit around looking at pics of Dicks and Johnsons, you little fag?

    • Always have to laugh “close relationship with EA”. They won’t even respond to emails from me anymore. I don’t accept gifts, trips, or the like from anyone. I have no relationship with any of these companies. I think that’s actually beneficial though. I have no concerns about any of that stuff…never have.

      • Crimson

        Yeah, right. Deny. Deny. Deny.

        I heard that you were the voice that says, “EA Sports. It’s In The Game”.

  • Despite lower sales and expectations of NCAA Football, it’s still amazing to me that in this day and age, college sports would cease to be represented in the video game world. That is all of S-U-C-K. Nothing else to say.

  • Joe

    Sam Keller is the biggest cocksucking faggot ever…FUCK HIM!!!!!!!!!

  • lonnie

    there gos my hope of a new collage hoops game from 2k and next years ncaa football is a must buy cause it may be the last one ever made…sad,sad,sad..

    • Guest

      Do you already own this years NCAA? Then chances are, you already have next year’s game. The only thing that you ACTUALLY need, is next year’s NCAA game case to go with your copy of this years game.

  • Just a guy

    Who cares about this? The trial doesn’t even START until June of 2014. We’ll still get 2 more years of NCAA football and if it doesn’t improve in those 2 years nobody is going to be buying it after that anyway.

  • Damn if this game dies I’m done with EA. When this NCAA is on its A game there is no denying it is usually the best. Hopefully they make the next two top notch can fat boy and give fans what they want.

  • Keith.

    RIP and good riddance to Tiburon’s sorry excuse of a college football game. Bonus points if the suit prompts the resignation of Riccotello and co.

  • LickMyNutz Pasta

    EA should stop making the game altogether, they cant even get all the teams in the game. Why didn’t the NCAA yank their license after they left a team out of the game blows my mind.