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NCAA announces decision to not renew deal with EA Sports

Jul 17, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

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With the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit yet to receive a decision from U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken as to whether or not the suit will receive class action certification, both sides are still hard at work to strengthen its’ case.

The plaintiffs are expected to add a current student-athlete to its ranks at some point in the near future, with the theory being that making this move will enhance their argument that this should be a class-action suit. That would allow the number of former (and current) athletes involved in the suit to swell in a manner that could force the current model of “amateurism” to crumble right before our eyes.

As for the three defendants, the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company, their representation is doing everything possible to make sure the case does not receive class-action certification. On Wednesday the NCAA made a move that is more cosmetic than anything, announcing that it would not renew its licensing contract with EA Sports when the the current deal expires next June.

The NCAA has made the decision not to enter a new contract for the license of its name and logo for the EA Sports NCAA Football video game. The current contract expires in June 2014, but our timing is based on the need to provide EA notice for future planning. As a result, the NCAA Football 2014 video game will be the last to include the NCAA’s name and logo. We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games. But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.

The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA. The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes. Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game. They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future.

Essentially what this means is that EA Sports’ lucrative NCAA Football series will no longer have the NCAA label, and any NCAA logos within the game will be gone as well. When it comes to the aspects of the game fans care about (schools, players, etc.), those licenses are handled by the CLC.

Of course with the CLC being one of the defendants in this potentially monumental lawsuit, it remains to be seen if that company makes a move in this direction as well. So fear not video gamers, the extremely slim chances of there being another college basketball video game weren’t harmed by the NCAA’s decision.

All that was determined Wednesday was that come 2014 a college sports game made by EA Sports won’t have the “NCAA” logo affixed to it.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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