On Wednesday evening, the NCAA released a statement responding to the news of Friday's $40 million settlement between former NCAA players and EA Sports about the use of the players' likenesses.
It was curiously worded. After saying that it wouldn't allow the settlement to negatively affect the legal proceedings in the O'Bannon trial scheduled to start on Monday, there was this line.
This line in NCAA's icy response to the $40 mil EA Sports settlement w/ players...wow. No self awareness whatsoever. pic.twitter.com/PSq9kFrqvc— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) June 5, 2014
According to Merriam-Webster, a benefactor is "a person who gives money or other help to a person or cause." Yes, it doesn't take much thought to realize how awkwardly worded the statement is in the context of the structure of the NCAA and the legal fights it is currently embroiled in.
After being lit up on social media after the statement was released, on Thursday morning the word "benefactor" was updated to "beneficiaries," a word that likely fits the NCAA's original intentions much better, but is still a bit ironic. Here's the entire statement:
"First, under no circumstances will we allow the proposed agreement between EA and plaintiff’s lawyers to negatively impact the eligibility of any student-athlete…not one will miss a practice or a game if this settlement is approved by the court. This proposed settlement does not equate to payment of current student-athletes for their athletic performance, regardless of how it is being publicly characterized.
"Second, the real beneficiaries of this settlement are the lawyers, who could pocket more than $15 million.
"We have not yet determined whether to formally object to any of the settlement terms."
The entire statement gives off the feeling that the NCAA felt compelled to issue a response to the settlement, but really didn't know what to say, especially since it put the sanctioning body on an island. And in issuing a response for the sake of a response, it misused a term badly enough that it needed to be updated a day later.
But who is the real beneficiary in the structure of college athletics right now? Yup, you got it, the NCAA, which makes millions upon millions of dollars in revenue from television deals and licensing agreements while refusing to consider a pay-for-play model for athletes.
Because EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company settled with the players, the NCAA is the lone defendant in the O'Bannon trial. And as part of that O'Bannon trial, the NCAA is filling the role of benefactor in paying lots of money to defend its position and its lawyers are the beneficiaries of the NCAA's fight.
According to EA Sports, the structure could have been changed in the past without any legal battles involved years ago.As part of the agreement, EA Sports will testify at the trial that it wanted to pay NCAA players.
In legal filings, the company said it would have paid more for the specific likenesses of players (I.E. player names) to be in the game, knowing that it would lead to increased game sales. The NCAA obviously did not seriously consider the proposal. Because of the legal battles that have ensued over player likenesses, EA Sports is not producing a football video game this year.
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