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NCAA licensing lawsuit moves forward, just not that one Stuck
Posted on February 9, 2010 at 12:37 PM.
You may have heard about the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA. Or, like me, you might not have really heard much about it until several sports writers tweeted about it yesterday.

But it's a big one for sports gamers -- much less anyone remotely involved in college athletics.

You probably have heard about the Sam Keller vs. NCAA lawsuit on how the NCAA handles licensing athlete's likenesses in video games. Well O'Bannon vs. NCAA is along the same thread, and it has to do with the NCAA licensing former player likenesses to organizations for use.

And now the lawsuit of O'Bannon vs. NCAA is moving forward.

What it means is that the NCAA's amateurism ideas are going to be put to an extreme test at least once and probably twice over the coming months. The NCAA's claims to protect amateurism and to protect student athletes from exploitation will almost certainly be unfounded when their account books face some scrutiny.

The implications for NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball (if it's still going to be a game), and NCAA Baseball (if we ever see one again) could be huge.

If O'Bannon wins his lawsuit, Keller would have a great chance, after a lot of legal wrangling, to win his as well since the fundamental claims are pretty similar with the exception one deals with former athletes and the other deals with current. And the NCAA's claim of protecting amateurism would pretty much be put to sleep as well, so college athletics themselves would be forever changed.. The next question for everyone would be, what happens in a post lawsuit world if the judges side with the athletes?

In the O'Bannon case, classic teams with accurate rosters would be a huge no-no in sports gaming. In the Keller case, athletes that even remotely resemble their real life counterparts would be considered taboo in college games, and part of Keller's claim is against customization as well. So custom rosters just might go the way of the dodo. However, that's assuming the NCAA survives the legal onslaught and somehow still is able to maintain it's claim of 'protecting' amateur athletes. There is a small chance the NCAA might be required to compensate athletes in licensing deals (or they might not be around to police licensing deals anymore) which might open the door up to real names and likenesses being used instead of the old number system.

For a lack of a better term, the future is clearly fuzzy for the NCAA. When you step into the world of the legalese, you can never be too cautious when predicting outcomes, and these cases are no exception. Since these things typically take forever to decide, we'll stay on top of these stories at OS. However, don't expect any firm resolution for quite some time.
# 1 SBartlett @ Feb 9
cool article. i think that if something is over turned and changes the landscape, then you are going to see it's influence like you said - but at the same time, each case is apprpoached as it's own unique set of facts and information and is approached entirely seperate so the licensing for players will be it's own dispute if OBannon wins.

so complex and so time consuming makes the process so...inadequate.

Interesting to say the least.
# 2 MMChrisS @ Feb 9
The problem is Suave, if O'Bannon wins it's going to absolutely turn the NCAA and how it's done things upside down anyways, so Keller would just be icing on the cake but would probably be inconsequential as far as the big picture. At least, that's what I was told by someone who has a better grasp at legalities than I do over lunch.

Supposedly, O'Bannon would be enough to completely turn the NCAA licensing program completely upside down because it'd also be an answer in many ways on the legalities of current student-athletes not getting paid for their likenesses being used as well.

I'm going to do some more reading but I may update this blog post to reflect that in my conclusions. The O'Bannon case could be just as big as the Keller case in that regards.
# 3 BlackRome @ Feb 9
The hope is that these lawsuits stop the NCAA from profiting off of amateur athletes. To truly do that you would have to get rid of the NCAA. It's basically a legal mafia.
# 4 GaryT531 @ Feb 9
Ed O'Bannon and Sam Keller, what do these guys both have in common? They were both projected pro's whose careers didn't pan out.

O'Bannon was a complete bust for the Nets in the NBA. Keller was a projected NFL prospect while at ASU/Nebraska, but pretty much disappeared after getting hurt his Sr. year. Keller never suited up for an NFL team.

If both of these guys actually had successful pro careers, or any kind of pro career, then I doubt that they're bothering with this lawsuit. And O'Bannon's legendary playing career in Scandanavia, or wherever he is playing now, doesn't count as successful. I'm talking NBA successful.

I think Keller already had an effect of NCAA Football 10, the rosters were a mess, and I expect them to be once again bc EA knows the OS community will do their work. Keller will now win any lawsuits against customization. C'mon, can you actually see a judge buying that? EA is smart enough to know if they pull the plug on customization, then they will see sales drop. I'm already on the fence for buying NCAA 11. I don't feel like wasting my money on the crap that has been NCAA Football next gen anymore.

If customization is removed, then I am done with EA's NCAA Football series for good.
# 5 GaryT531 @ Feb 9
Keller will NOT win any lawsuits. Sorry, it was a typo.
# 6 GaryT531 @ Feb 9
meant to say keller will NOT win
# 7 BisonPride @ Feb 9
They already get paid. They get paid $80,000+ for a 4 year education that others have to pay out of their own pocket like NCAA baseball players. They just dont see the cash in their hands. If they get paid cash like pros then scholarships should go bye-bye.
# 8 videlsports @ Feb 10
If these guys made it, it would be a non-issue. As far as O'Bannon, Should have worked on your Jumpshot, it's over. Success overseas and still mad, NBA Requires, Defense, Teamwork, and a good Jumpshot. Plus you had 4 years of Education at UCLA. Sorry not buying your arguement. Just becuase they have your hometown,Height, and weight, does not make them a rip-off. Most players would be Honored they were on a video game.Sam Keller, Better not take custimizing out of video games, or I will be pissed. Go get a Job Man.
# 9 NoleFan72 @ Feb 10
So let me get this right, we think it's bad for a guy to get paid by an organization using his likeness and making millions from it, yes millions. Then guys think that 80K is a fair salary to pay an elite level athlete for 4 years of service? My family had to pay for me to college like just about everyone else, but that doesn't keep me from calling out a bad deal when I see one and this is one. And if it ruins the game fine, I would rather there be no college sport then see a bunch of fat cats basically pimp kids from around the country.
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