Last Thursday’s ruling by US District Judge Claudia Wilken in the class-action lawsuit against EA Sports, the Collegiate Licensing Company, and the NCAA was a major step for college athletes and their battle with the NCAA in regards to student athlete compensation.  

Football and men’s basketball athletes whose likeness were used in the classic NCAA dubbed video gaming series produced by EA Sports will be able to split a reported $60 million payout amongst themselves as early as this September. Over 20,000 former and current student athletes have filed claims and will be eligible to receive upwards of $7,200 each according to the ruling.

This decision includes NCAA football and men’s basketball players that were included in games between May 2003 and September 2014. Wilken reportedly decided that the amount each player can be compensated depends on “whether a player’s name appeared on a team roster, whether his assigned jersey number appeared on a virtual player, and whether his photograph appeared in the video game, as well as the number of years his name or likeness had been used.”

The discussion on whether or not college athletes should receive some sort of compensation outside of scholarships has been going on for as long as I have been alive and this decision starts to draw lines in the sand for NCAA and the strict and sometimes controversial rules that they have in place. NCAA rules prohibit student athletes from receiving or earning any money, gifts or benefits from playing sports but directly benefited from the names and likeness of said players during the agreement with EA Sports.  

$7,200 doesn’t sound like much, but this decision is priceless in regards to student athletes across the country subject to the laws of the NCAA. Plaintiff attorney Steve Berman described the ruling as “the first time student-athletes will receive rightful compensation for their image and likeness.” And that “the ruling is a landmark victory in the fight for student-athlete rights that is still ongoing.”