Local attorney Gordon Ball has filed a lawsuit on behalf of former University of Tennessee basketball star Bobby Maze against the major college conferences (including the SEC), the NCAA, and a video game maker for exploiting Maze and other basketball and football players.
The suit says college athletes’ likenesses and even their jersey numbers are used in video games to generate millions of dollars, and the athletes are not compensated. Maze appeared in video games during the 2006, 2008, and 2009 basketball seasons. The suit against Electronic Arts Inc. says the NCAA requires athletes to sign a form each year giving up the right to their likeness that continues even after they graduate.
The suit also claims the NCAA has a practice of only offering athletes one-year scholarships instead of scholarships for their college career, leaving the schools the option of dropping the athlete after any given year. Such a system prevents the athlete from negotiating and choosing a school that offers a more than one-year scholarship.
The suit has been filed in California and will be part of several similar suits seeking class action and will be assigned to one judge to sort through them all. A ruling for the athletes would turn the college sports world upside down.