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College Players Sue NCAA, EA Sports


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From the New York Times a couple of weeks ago:


College Stars Sue Over Likenesses in Video Games


Money quote, from former Arizona State and Nebraska QB Sam Keller:


>>“We signed a paper at the beginning of college saying we couldn’t benefit from our name,” said Keller, who is now 24 and living in Scottsdale, Ariz. “So why was the N.C.A.A. turning a blind eye to this and allowing EA Sports to take our likenesses and make big bucks off it?”


The N.C.A.A. has long enforced strict rules barring its athletes from cashing in on their celebrity status at the same time that it earned millions of dollars through licensing deals, like those for jerseys, that some say did just that. Now athletes are challenging in court for the right to control the use of their images.<<


How much are the NCAA and the schools making off of the players?


>>The N.C.A.A. would not disclose its earnings from video game royalties. But they are a significant source of income for the association and the universities, said Martin Brochstein, senior vice president of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, a trade group. A 2008 survey conducted by his group found that video-game royalties represented the second-largest category in earnings from collegiate licensing deals, behind apparel.<<


The schools have a nudge-nudge, wink-wink attitude toward profitting off of their players. For instance, in Knoxville you never hear the local sporting goods stores talk about the Eric Berry gear they sell. Instead, you can buy your "Officially-licensed Tennessee #14 jerseys!" Because otherwise it would obviously be profitting off of a player's likeness to use his name. This way it just profits off the fact that a lot of people just happen to like the #14. Kind of like how they liked #16 in the mid 1990s. Funny how trends work; it's just popular.


But wait, the players are being paid. In tuition, room and board, books, and the like, right? Look at it this way: the tuition, room and board, and book fees for an undergrad at UT are around $15,000 a year. Coincidentally, that's around what PhD candidates who teach in the English department get paid (man, it hurt to write that sentence). So, Eric Berry and I get "paid" the same amount by the University of Tennessee. Actually, my classes are paid for as well, so this is technically the last time in my life I will make more than Eric Berry. Here's where the math gets a bit more involved. To earn our keep, we teach two sections of English 101, with about 20 students in each class. Each undergrad credit hour costs $248. So, if you multiply $248 by 40 students by two semesters, a PhD candidate brings in around $60,000 a year for the university, for which they get paid $15,000. A good deal for the school.


How much do you think the school is bringing in off of Eric Berry? $60,000? Maybe a few bucks less? Maybe a few more? If you look at it in terms of ratio of pay-to-profit, my end of the bargain is quite fair, given issues of the size of the department, number of TAs, reasonably low tuition, our lack of professional experience, etc. Berry's end of the bargain is highway robbery.


I'm not suggesting that the players get paid right now for the use of their likenesses. Rather, I like the proposal of putting a certain percentage of the profits aside for all of the players represented in the game (not just the stars), to be paid as a trust after they graduate. That way, the players get some of the money that EA and their schools have earned off of them.





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Lets see 1 in 17 of high school football players ever play college football. These guys should be grateful that a college or university has given them scholarships to participate in a sport in trade for a free ride.


Education alone is priceless!

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