Players voice opinion on O'Bannon lawsuit against NCAA

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DALLAS – Count Kansas State linebacker Tre Walker among those strongly in support of the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA, which challenges whether EA should be allowed to use college athletes’ likenesses in video games without compensating them.

The NCAA ended its contract with EA, possibly marking the end of the popular NCAA Football franchise. NCAA Football 13 sold nearly 2 million copies last year.

“What goes around comes around and I’m so happy someone decided to sue the NCAA,” Walker said. “They think just because they give us a full ride scholarship that we should be thankful for them taking money from us that we earn every day. Without us, the NCAA wouldn’t have a job.”

“We play in the game that causes revenue,” Walker continued. “The NCAA makes millions and millions of dollars for that. We go to bowl games. The players don’t get paid for that. The school gets paid for that. They think just because we get new suits and new cleats and all that stuff that we should be satisfied but it’s blood, sweat and tears – we go back to our hometowns and college towns and work our behinds off to play 12 games a season.”

When playing NCAA Football 14, there is a “QB #14” on Texas’ roster that most would perceive to be Longhorns quarterback David Ash. “LB #50” on Kansas State’s roster is seemingly meant to be Walker.

“It’s not about disrespecting anybody but it’s about telling the truth,” Walker said. “They can’t sit there and say nobody knows it’s us. What if we got in trouble or something and we got nothing but the jersey and the number, then, in the court of law, and try to say that’s not you. At the end of it, you can’t sit there and use that against us and say they’re not making money off us when they really are.”

Fellow linebacker Ben Heeney plays for the rival Jayhawks but agrees with Walker. The O’Bannon lawsuit is seeking class action status and, if it does, it could dramatically affect the economic landscape in college athletics.

“They’re using us,” Heeney said. “The NFL gets paid for being on there so we should be the same… We basically have a full-time job being a student-athlete. It’s 40 hours a week working out, lifting, everything. We don’t really have the luxury of other stduents getting a job and maintaining that job… You’re getting paid to do this. This is the prime of your career. Why can’t I get paid for being in the prime of mine?”

Others, like TCU safety Sam Carter, could care less about the legislation facing the NCAA regarding likenesses in video games. Although Carter does admit to boosting up the rating of TCU’s “S #17” to 99 overall, the game’s highest rating, when he plays NCAA Football 14.

“I’m 99 in my heart,” Carter joked. “I don’t really have anything to say about [the lawsuit] because it’s not affecting me in any way. I’m excited that I’m getting to play the sport and I’m enjoying every bit of it. They’ve been doing it for years so I’m not going to be the one trying to change that.”

Walker, when asked about a $2,000 stipend for student-athletes, an initiative supported by some administrators and coaches, including Texas head coach Mack Brown, was more outspoken. 

“I would love to see that,” Walker said. “I think it’s nothing but fair. If you think about how much money we get paid to live where we live, some of our rents is $600 a month. When you take a $740 check plus rent, even with a $500 rent, after utilities, you have nothing to show for it. No money. Without some of these food plans with the school, we’d have nothing. We’d be starving. That’s terrible. I’m tired of it.”