Okay, so you’ve got this settlement agreement in O’Bannon in which EA Sports agrees to pay $40 million, some of which would end up in the pockets of players. Is this a frontal assault on amateurism? Will the NCAA declare every student-athlete who takes the money ineligible?
Not so fast, my friends. Johnny Football, once again, may be coming to the rescue.
Some current college athletes will be eligible for payments, creating a scenario in which they are paid for use of their likeness while still a college athlete. NCAA rules prohibit athletes from making money off their name in school, but there is a recent precedent for this to happen.
While in college, former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel sued a man who sold shirts using the football player’s trademarked “Johnny Football” nickname. The NCAA said then it would allow Manziel to collect damages if his corporation’s lawsuit won.
“That’s one of the most interesting things is what’s the NCAA going to say about eligibile players?” said Leonard Aragon, an attorney for the Sam Keller plaintiffs in the video game settlement. “It’s our opinion that it’s the same thing here as Manziel. If someone stole your laptop, you’d be able to get payment and still be considered an amateur. Here, right of publicity is a property right.”
Is that a compelling argument? Well, at the very least, it drew this out:
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the association is reviewing the terms of the settlement.