9th Circuit ruling on O’Bannon complicates potential return of college games

Posted September 30th, 2015 at 4:00 pm


When Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon vs NCAA class-action lawsuit, there was reason for optimism that college sports video games would be able to return in a few years. That was pending appeals however, and the 9th Circuit today turned in its response, reaffirming that the NCAA violated antitrust laws, but striking down the part where a trust would be set up for players to be paid for the use of their likenesses. 

The ramifications of many legal rulings are open to interpretation and that definitely includes today’s. However it would seem to at the very least cloud the potential of a return of college sports video games in the foreseeable future.

The District Court ruling had made it possible for the likes of EA Sports to pay into a trust that would have been dispersed to players after they left school. They would have been able to license the use of their likeness including names for video games. That would no longer be allowed based on the 9th Circuit’s reversal. Players would not be able to receive any compensation above the full cost of attendance.

The O’Bannon case may be appealed once again, either to a larger 9th Circuit panel or all the way to the Supreme Court. This story is not over by any means. There’s also a big lawsuit being brought by attorney Jeffrey Kessler against the NCAA and power conference. Should it prevail, it would completely shake up the NCAA by removing any restriction on athletes being paid. That case has a class action hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

For more on this news check out the article written today over at Sporting News. For a full summary of the situation with college sports video games – from the first lawsuit filing to where we are today – make sure to read through this piece over on Hit The Pass.