NCAA decides not to renew contract with EA Sports
By Zac Ellis
The NCAA has decided not to renew its contract with EA Sports, the organization announced on Wednesday.
With the end of the NCAA’s current contract on the horizon, the recently released NCAA Football 14 will be the last EA Sports title to include the organization’s name and logo. The first EA Sports college football game without an affiliation with the NCAA will be called “College Football 15,” sources told ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy.
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.
The NCAA, of course, is a co-defendant along with EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company in a high-profile antitrust lawsuit put forth by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. O’Bannon v. the NCAA seeks damages for the use of player likenesses in video games and television broadcasts, and the case is awaiting ruling on class-action certification. If the suit is certified, thousands of student-athletes could join, pushing potential damages into billions of dollars.
Earlier this month, U.S. district judge Claudia Wilken ruled that a current student-athlete can be added to the case.