College Football

Judge gives preliminary approval for settlement in video game case

NCAA president Mark Emmert. Photo:

NCAA president Mark Emmert.

A judge has given preliminary approval to a combined $60 million settlement for lawsuits related to the use of college athletes' images and likenesses in video games, reports USA Today's Steve Berkowitz.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, who is also presiding over the recently completed Ed O'Bannon v. NCAA antitrust lawsuit, issued the ruling. Wilken told lawyers that the settlement won't affect an injunction in the O'Bannon trial, which also involves video games.

Lawyers for the O'Bannon plaintiffs had written Wednesday they were concerned their clients would have to opt out of the settlement or risk losing the potential granting of the injunction.

The video game case, led by former Arizona and Nebraska football player Sam Keller, sought compensation from the NCAA, Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Co. for the use of players' images and likenesses in EA's college football and basketball games, beginning in May 2003. Other groups of plaintiffs were also involved, including one led by O'Bannon.

EA and the CLC agreed to a $40 million settlement last September, and the NCAA agreed to a $20 million settlement in June.

More: How the NCAA botched its case in the O'Bannon trial

Wilken's approval begins a process of notifying thousands of former and current athletes of their eligibility to participate in the settlement. According to Berkowitz, after attorneys' fees and expenses, at least $38 million is likely to be available for distribution.

With the O'Bannon trial completed, Wilken is also due to give a ruling in that case some time in the future.

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