The evening started with an autograph session during which each coach was scattered around with throngs of people surrounding. The first humorous event of the evening was watching Bill Martin wander around with... fewer people, and at one point introducing himself to a confused little boy for someone to talk to. Rodriguez obviously had the longest line, but listening in on some of the conversations, the coaches were refreshingly honest and down-to-earth in their dealings with the fans.
If you're in the Chicago area you can catch the show your ownself at the Standard Club tomorrow. Details can be found on the Alumni Association website.
Suin' and hopin' and prayin'. More on this Sam Keller lawsuit, which has ignited the college football commentariat in a way that would be surprising if it wasn't May. Darren Rovell says these guys have a case:
I've seen many lawsuits brought about by student athletes in my day and this is probably the best case I have ever seen constructed. I think Keller was smart to go after the video game business instead of the jersey business because I think he can make a better case with the former even though Nike and adidas call up football programs so that they can only produce jerseys with the numbers the stars are wearing each year.
Meanwhile, a law-talkin' reader who works at a class-action firm that works closely with the one Keller has retained says these guys are "pretty big time" and that if they "didn't think this suit had merit, they wouldn't be wasting their time on it." He's gone through the complaint, so let's hand the mic to him. I've bolded some parts for emphasis:
The complaint is pretty thorough and lists several causes of action which all have different remedies, but in general it asks for the following basic things as a remedy:
-Damages- This would include money to compensate for the loss of past earnings/punish EA and the NCAA for their conduct/etc. Now, assuming the court certifies the class (which is a big, big assumption) any damages would be paid out on a class wide basis. So each athlete would be due some percentage of the pot of money at the end, minus the plaintiffs' attorneys' cut. Usually, the class rep (Keller, in this case) would be due a slightly larger percentage to compensate them for time and effort. Like, Keller may be due a couple extra grand. It's not (supposed) to be a huge amount.
-Disgorgement of profits- Meaning that EA would have to give back (to the class) all the money they've made off their illegal conduct. This is generally an appropriate remedy for unjust enrichment suits like this, but I really, REALLY doubt that a court would actually do this to EA. Basically, Keller's asking for this for leverage.
-Destruction of all copies of the offending titles- See my comments on Disgorgement.
-Equitable/Injunctive relief- This is the bit you were worried about in your article. Keller's asking the court to prevent EA from making games in the future where athlete's likenesses are used. If they get this, then we're looking at randomization and the games will suck ad infinitim.
My thoughts on what is likely to happen from here on out: EA is going to fight this like hell because this is basically the survival of their brand. Keller (or, more accurately, Keller's attorneys) know this and will push strongly for an early settlement. EA may be able to make a small concession (like randomizing the state of origin or skin color or whatever) in order to give the settlement an appearance of legitimacy for the court and that might be that. In that case, everyone will get a small amount of money and EA still gets to make their products. The problem with THAT solution is that it leaves EA open for another suit a few years down the road that alleges the same basic things, but I'm sure they'd take that. This is kind of what everyone should be rooting for. The IDEAL solution (as you alluded to) is to make ongoing payments to college kids for their likenesses in the future, but I think we can both agree that the odds of the NCAA signing off on that are somewhere between nil and bupkis.
If they don't settle early, then EA may win on class certification (which is a process that takes a year or so all by itself) and then this all pretty much goes away. But if it gets past that point and Keller can certify the class, then EA is very probably fucked (legal term).
Bottom line: Unless EA can kick this stuff out on a "technicality" within the next year or so, we're very likely going to have some change to the way EA makes their college games. The only question is how big the change will be and how much EA will have to pay out in the interim.
It's always been a fiction that EA wasn't profiting off the likenesses of college athletes, especially after consoles hooked themselves up to the internet and roster downloading became commonplace. The fig leaf of not using players' names doesn't change the fact that it's Mike Hart in the #20 jersey, and that this is an illegal use of player likenesses. Listen to the law-talkin' guy.
If the NCAA has any sense they will use this opportunity to provide players in revenue sports some of the fruits of their labors. Here's an opportunity to provide some level of payment over and above the scholarship money they're already getting. The money comes from an outside source—so it won't cannibalize whatever the NCAA wants to do—and can reasonably be distributed on an equal basis to everyone. I'm betting EA would prefer that to randomizing players entirely if they lose the suit. There is a way to comply with the law that is a win-win and a way that's lose-lose. The NCAA should pick the good one, because in all probability they're going to have to choose.
Unless, that is, EA's lawyers boot up a 2003 version of the game and use John Navarre to option the universe into submission. In that case, all bets are off.
Just don't grow awesome hair, kid. Oklahoma's decisions on which marginal characters to keep and which to ditch are mystifying. Last year, wideout Josh Jarboe brought a gun to school and got expelled. Oklahoma decided they'd still take him but he was on triple-secret probation. Jarboe then showed up on the internet smiling as he rapped about, you know, things that are in rap, at which point Bob Stoops said this:
"Kick a guy off the team for what he says?" Stoops said. The whole Internet culture frustrates Stoops. "We're starting to talk about everything kids say and do," Stoops said. "Now we're in people's homes, in their private spaces."
The probation was so triple-secret that not even Stoops knew about it. The local vultures in the Oklahoma newspapers swooped in and the kid got gone.
Now enter Justin Chaisson, who has issues at least as severe as Jarboe's (warning: link has video that plays automatically; advise you skip it):
Outside the coffee shop, Chaisson grabbed the girl's arm and forced her into the back seat of his sport-utility vehicle, according to the report.
The girl told police Chaisson punched her in the ribs and drove her to the desert before pulling her out of the vehicle. She said that’s when he placed a screwdriver to her neck and threatened to kill her, according to the report.
The reprehensible Barry Tramel, the main vulture mentioned above, has an opinion on this: take him because now we're all cynical and stuff. What's the message here? Just don't show up on the internet screwing around with your friends and we're good? Avoid amazing dreadlocks?* Words are words, man, especially when they're not directed at anyone.
*(Actually, given Johnny Sears this might be a good message: kids, if you have amazing dreadlocks they will bring you naught but misery.)
Etc.: I think I'm a fan of Philadelphia's new MLS team. "Join or Die": I choose join.