NCAA

The Biggest Settlements in NCAA Sports History

The NCAA is one of the most highly regarded entities in sports. Governing a body of universities is no easy task, and the NCAA has found itself in various legal battles over the years. With recent developments in a highly publicized case involving Michigan State University, we’ll look at the biggest settlements in NCAA sports history.

4. Michigan State settlement: $1.2 million

After reviewing this 2019 case, it seems like Michigan State paid off the complainant and aggressor to avoid further NCAA investigations. The woman who initially filed a lawsuit against MSU told authorities she did not receive the proper services that should be provided through Title IX in regard to sexual assault victims.

She also expected the player in question, Keith Mumphery, to be banned from the campus per the school’s code of conduct policy. Neither of those things happened, and she filed a suit against the school. Initially, in 2015, Mumphrey was not found responsible. Then, in 2016, he was found responsible. In 2018, he filed a suit against Michigan State and counter-claimed that he wasn’t given due process.

Mumphrey stated that the school expelled him without completing the investigation since there were two conflicting results. To keep the NCAA from bearing down on them after the scandal, the school paid both parties. The victim received $475,000 and Mumphrey received $725,000.

3. Ed O’Bannon settlement: $40 million

For years, the NCAA reaped benefits from video game licenses through EA Sports and 2K Games. When Ed O’Bannon’s likeness was used in a college basketball game, he didn’t receive any royalties. The UCLA power forward filed a suit against the NCAA and it shifted how video games were produced in the future.

EA Sports lost the NCAA license to college football games, and 2K no longer had the license to college basketball. After years of fighting with the NCAA, O’Bannon, along with many other players, won the suit. The agreed-upon settlement was $40 million, gladly accepted by former players whose likenesses were used in NCAA games.

This opens the door for new games. We wonder how this will affect current NCAA football and basketball players. Only time will tell, but we anticipate a major college-football game release in 2020. We’ve also seen both 2K and EA purchase licenses from individual universities to use in their story-driven career modes (MyCareer, Longshot, and Face of the Franchise).

2. Concussion lawsuit settlement: $75 million

Dealing with concussions has been one of the most-discussed issues for college and pro football players. After Will Smith’s movie Concussion put a spotlight on it, we’ve seen multiple lawsuits between student-athletes and the NFL and NCAA.

Former Eastern Illinois football player Adrian Arrington filed suit against the NCAA in 2011 for misconduct concerning his post-concussion care. This started a legal battle over concussion-monitoring funding. The judge decided $5 million would be awarded to concussion research and another $70 million would go toward monitoring current and former athletes regarding severe brain trauma. 

1. Cost of attendance settlement: $208 million

Impacting both current and former NCAA students, this ruling is the biggest payout in NCAA sports history for a reason. For years, student-athletes fought to recoup the extra benefits from their time in school. This was only fair according to the judge who oversaw the case.

Starting in 2006 with former Oklahoma quarterback Jason White, the legal battle will impact the NCAA’s scholarship system going forward. As a new NCAA rule, former and current student-athletes will all be paid for the difference between their original scholarships and the cost of attendance that was added on.

Are you surprised by the payouts for some of these settlements? We think the Ed O’Bannon settlement could have the biggest impact on college athletics going forward.