The NCAA today managed to sidestep a threat to its power and profit structure by amicably resolving O’Bannon v. NCAA, a federal antitrust lawsuit that could have cost the organization tens of billions of dollars.
“I am overjoyed to close this chapter and move on to the future business of the NCAA,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert. “I know Ed O’Bannon and the rest of the plaintiffs share my happiness.”
O’Bannon, the former UCLA basketball star, long claimed the NCAA violated anti-trust laws by using players’ names, likenesses and images in video games and other products. But today he says all of those hard feelings are gone.
“Look, when you’re a college athlete, you don’t have the money to pay $59.99 for a new video game,” he said. “And when you’re actually in the video game, that really sucks because you want to play as yourself. All we ever wanted this whole time was a free copy. And now we have it. And it’s so awesome.”
O’Bannon said he had heard stories from fellow NCAA athletes who had scraped together 30 or 40 dollars for previously owned copies of NCAA video games, only to find that the disks were scratched or scuffed and mostly inoperable.
“Stuff like that breaks your heart,” said O’Bannon. “I think we can all agree that NCAA players deserve brand new copies of games. If they get messed up after that because they’re left face-down on the floor or because you stupidly use it as a coaster or whatever, that’s on us. But at least we got the game in perfect quality in the first place.”
Even though it is very likely that had O’Bannon v. NCAA been played out to the end, the plaintiffs would have won a settlement in the billions of dollars, O’Bannon is happy with getting 100 free games — worth nearly $6,000.
“Everyone knows you shoot high at the start in a lawsuit, with your real figure being somewhere below that,” he said. “This was our real figure. I mean, when I started this fight, I never could have imagined an outcome this good. We didn’t have graphics this good back in my day.”