Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Lawsuit shows NCAA still in fantasyland

EA Sports may settle a class-action lawsuit for $40 million.

One would think that with all of the punches the NCAA is being hit with these days, it would become a better loser. Instead, it continues to provide more fodder for criticism.

Latest example: There's a proposed $40 million settlement for class-action lawsuits filed by 200,000 to 300,000 former NCAA football and basketball players, whose likenesses were used by video game manufacturer EA Sports without their permission. This is just one of several lawsuits and issues the NCAA is dealing with, all circling around the fallacy of amateur athletics that it's trying to perpetuate.

Anyway, this was the NCAA's official response Wednesday to the lawsuits:

First, under no circumstances will we  allow the proposed agreement between EA and plaintiff’s lawyers  to negatively impact the eligibility of any student-athlete…not one will miss a practice or a game if this settlement is approved by the court. This proposed settlement does not equate to payment of current student-athletes for their athletic performance, regardless of how it is being publicly characterized.

Second, the real beneficiaries of this settlement are the lawyers, who could pocket more than $15 million.

We have not yet determined whether to formally object to any of the settlement terms.

-- Comment on the first paragraph: So in short, if Player A collects part of his deserved settlement from a lawsuit, the NCAA won't declare him ineligible. How big of them. So similarly, if an athlete sues a restaurant for food poisoning and wins and collects a settlement, he also won't be ineligible? Why is this even an issue?

-- Comment on the second paragraph: Indeed, lawyers will pocket more than any individual student-athlete. That's generally the way it works in class-action lawsuits. But the suggestion by the NCAA seems to be that because of that financial reality, the lawsuit was frivolous and without significance. Hardly. This is one of several dominoes that may fall against the NCAA. The next is the Ed O'Bannon class-action, anti-trust suit. The former UCLA basketball player is suing the NCAA for its use of athletes' images for commercial purposes. Sound familiar? Yeah, thought so.

-- Comment on the third paragraph: Quit while you're behind.

A little more honesty and transparency and a greater grasp of reality would go a long way for the NCAA. It blew a chance to get ahead of this train and now it's looking silly trying to catch up.

Should the NCAA lose or feel compelled to settle the O'Bannon suit, I can't wait to see their statement.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.