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Updated: NCAA announces it will not renew licensing contract with EA Sports


Well, this is interesting.

The video game NCAA Football 14 was released earlier this month right in the middle of the ongoing lawsuit between the Ed O’Bannon plaintiffs and co-defendants, which include the NCAA and EA Sports, over the use of athletes’ name, image, and likeness. Turns out, it’ll be the last video game under the NCAA name.

In a news release, the NCAA announced it will not enter into a new agreement with EA Sports for the video game franchise. The contract is set to expire in June of next year, but the announcement has been made to, according to the NCAA, “provide EA notice for future planning.”

Here is the statement from the NCAA in its entirety:

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.

It’s a major move to part ways like this, but also an understandable one. The NCAA is looking to protect itself down the road and teaming with EA Sports isn’t going to help those interests. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reports that EA Sports still plans to have a college football video game.  As long as Collegiate Licensing Company, which deals in licensing for schools, conferences and bowls, has a part in the game, it should look about the same. But the name “NCAA Football” is gone.

The O’Bannon case is currently awaiting a class-certification ruling that will determine if current athletes will be in a position to seek compensation from the use of their likeness. At least one current unnamed athlete will be added to the group of plaintiffs in the case, per a ruling earlier this month.

Updated 5:45 p.m. ET: EA Sports has released a statement about the end of its licensing agreement with the NCAA. It doesn’t say much that already wasn’t known — that Collegiate Licensing Company would still play a prominent role in the game, for example — but here it is:

By now, most fans will have heard that EA’s licensing agreement with the NCAA is set to expire and that we have agreed to part ways.  I’m sure gamers are wondering what this means. 

This is simple:  EA SPORTS will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer include the NCAA names and marks.  Our relationship with the Collegiate Licensing Company is strong and we are already working on a new game for next generation consoles which will launch next year and feature the college teams, leagues and all the innovation fans expect from EA SPORTS. 

We took big creative strides with this year’s college game and you’ll see much more in the future.  We love college football and look forward to making more games for our fans.

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17 Responses to “Updated: NCAA announces it will not renew licensing contract with EA Sports”
  1. silverandblackfan77 says: Jul 17, 2013 3:03 PM

    The SEC should make their own game with their own license

  2. MasMacho says: Jul 17, 2013 3:10 PM

    I have an idea. They could add two new dynasty modes.. “Litigation” and “Infractions” to simulate the off field chicanery that is the NCAA football offseason.

    (If it’s in the game… )

  3. MasMacho says: Jul 17, 2013 3:11 PM

    Besides, long time players of the game were offered a settlement from EA this year pertaining to an anti-trust suit for NCAA titles, in which EA promised to not enter into an exclusive agreement with the NCAA for a period of 5 years.

    I don’t think Ed O’Bannon’s case has much to do with it. Fact check.

  4. MasMacho says: Jul 17, 2013 3:14 PM

    “Additionally, the Settlement provides that Electronic Arts will not enter into an exclusive trademark license with the AFL for five years from the date of approval of the Settlement; and that Electronic Arts will not renew its current collegiate football trademark license with the Collegiate Licensing Company (“CLC”) on an exclusive basis for five years after it expires in 2014; and that Electronic Arts will not seek any new exclusive trademark license for the purpose of making football videogames with the CLC, the NCAA, or any NCAA member institution covered by the current exclusive license for five years after the expiration of the current CLC agreement. You can read more about the Settlement here. ”

  5. Ben Kercheval says: Jul 17, 2013 3:20 PM

    I don’t think the NCAA’s decision is necessarily indicative of the outcome of the O’Bannon case, MasMacho. It’s them covering their rear ends.

  6. sportsdrenched says: Jul 17, 2013 3:41 PM

    That’s too bad. I haven’t bought this franchise in several years, (time & priorities, not quality of product) but boy did I spend some time playing it when I was younger.

    I’d be interested to see what EA comes up with as a replacement, if they come up with one at all.

  7. MasMacho says: Jul 17, 2013 4:07 PM

    @Ben.. I didn’t say it was a result of the O’Bannon case. I’m saying the opposite.

    Per the link to the settlement language I posted above. The decision is related to “PECOVER vs. ELECTRONIC ARTS, INC” pertaining to California and federal ant-trust laws.

  8. MasMacho says: Jul 17, 2013 4:09 PM

    btw., it’s not “CYA” it is “Comply with the agreed terms of the class action settlement” which was approved on 5/30/2013.

  9. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 17, 2013 5:01 PM

    This won’t last long….

    There is WAY too much of a market for games like this.

  10. beavertonsteve says: Jul 17, 2013 5:44 PM

    I really enjoyed playing NCAA football. I may be in the minority, but give me more college football games with better gameplay and career mode with recruiting and I could care less if the players were based on real people.

    I started an NCAA Dynasty on 2011 that I’ve been playing ever since. I used Ole Miss, who I probably couldn’t have named more than two actual players on the roster and it made no difference. It was still fun to play.

    Or, option two, blow up the whole amateur NCAA system and put the REAL players in these game, pay them for using their likeness and get it over with.

    Either way, please don’t make any more exclusive agreements with game publishers. Once you block everyone else out you get the same game every year and basically play $60 for roster updates.

  11. imaduffer says: Jul 17, 2013 5:59 PM

    Now what are college football players going to do?
    Learn how to read and write?

  12. ironman721 says: Jul 17, 2013 10:39 PM

    One more reason to hate the NCAA!

  13. lbroberts123 says: Jul 17, 2013 11:42 PM

    The guys over at 2K should look into song a college football game now.

  14. seandon2186 says: Jul 18, 2013 10:54 AM

    @lbroberts123 that hasn’t been done before…

  15. tlmoon2112 says: Jul 18, 2013 12:19 PM

    I used to work at EA folks. I can’t begin to tell you how big this is. EA wouldn’t voluntarily back out of the licensing deal without something coercing them so it has to have SOMETHING to do with O’Bannon. For a long time, the NCAA IP was considered “Madden’s Little Brother” but it quickly grew legs that made it it’s own very strong entity. At the HQ in CA, they do a release party for the staff for every major title they release. The NCAA title party was always “wear your school’s colors” with a beer truck….drink until the kegs are empty….it was a pretty big deal. This is not some joke, its a big business loss and 2K Sports would be idiots to not capitalize on it.

  16. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 18, 2013 12:47 PM

    EA is already planning “College Football 15”. They will have to agree to licensing from each school or conference individually instead of a package deal with the NCAA. But the NCAA doesn’t award a champion in CFB so as long as they get all the individual conferences to agree, there will be little to no difference in the game, except the term NCAA will not be found… BFD….

  17. AP's Stomach Punch says: Jul 19, 2013 1:50 AM

    Hopefully, EA and/or it’s soon to be named competitor will give us the option to actually have playoffs. You know since they are really going to start playoffs next year…

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