NCAA will not renew EA Sports contract

Submitted by justingoblue on July 17th, 2013 at 2:28 PM
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.


Not so surprising, but I'll leave the commentary up to all of you.…



July 17th, 2013 at 2:49 PM ^

 The contract ends in june 2014 and Denards on the cover of NCAA football 2014 which was released in july 2013. One would think they'll be an ncaa 2015 released in 2014 before the contract expires ( thus why the NCAA is giving them a heads up now). it's possible Devin might be the last NCAA cover athlete tho :D


July 17th, 2013 at 2:33 PM ^

That really sucks. At least we were able to get another Michigan player on the cover before all this happened. I wasn't too upset when the NCAA March Madness game went away but having this game go away will really really suck. Guess my wife will be happy that she doesn't have to see me playing video games as much.

Wolverine Devotee

July 17th, 2013 at 2:39 PM ^

Seriously? Fuck the NCAA. 

This is a joke. 

All those countless hours I spent in the offseason. From buying rosters and having them mailed to me on my memory card on the PS2, to spending countless hours creating Teambuilder teams for fellow Michigan fans.



Wolverine Devotee

July 17th, 2013 at 3:42 PM ^

I've just put so much time into the games. More than I should have.

Someone better pick up for next season because one of my rituals for Michigan games is playing Saturday's matchup on Friday night after I get back from Cass Tech's game. But just before the clock strikes midnight and actually is gameday. 

I'm one of those losers who makes custom covers for EVERY game that doesn't have a Michigan guy on the cover-




July 17th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

Nice attempt to distance themselves from EA's obvious profiteering off of the images (and, in the case of formations/plays named for Tebow, names) of student-athletes. Looks to me like their lawyers are properly terrified here, but any judge is going to see straight through it.


July 17th, 2013 at 2:49 PM ^

Most gamers point out how little changes they make in each version of this game outside of the rosters.  So all the online communities will likely just release new rosters each year around the same time and everyone will start their new dynasties.  Same gameplay, new rosters, no need to spend $59 to get it, and Denard will still be on the cover. Sounds pretty good to me.


July 17th, 2013 at 2:51 PM ^

They were going to have to make major changes if they kept it soon enough.  And I haven't played the last two nearly as much as I used to.  And it is kinda cool if Denard is on the last one.

But still a great deal of my video game time nowadays is that game.  And while I kinda look forward to having a chance to beat JoePa's streaks now that a new version won't come after a year, but with no backward compatibility, does this mean no college football game for the new PS and XBox systems?  Will I have to keep my PS3 hooked up for just this game?


July 17th, 2013 at 2:51 PM ^

Does this mean there will never be a college football game or EA just can't make anymore?

If there are no more games, I may cry. I've played this damn thing since it came out. 


July 17th, 2013 at 2:53 PM ^

The worst part of this is that we never got a fucking playoff. Maybe they'll release some options like that as DLC. That would be sweet.

MI Expat NY

July 17th, 2013 at 2:54 PM ^

One thing left unsaid is how much intellectual property is actually at issue.  It sounds like the schools can still be in the game, presumably with their uniforms, stadiums, mascots, etc.  Does the NCAA license conference names?  Bowl games?  Etc.?  

Could the game be call College Football 2015 and basically be identical, just without showing the NCAA logo anywhere?

MI Expat NY

July 17th, 2013 at 3:08 PM ^

It's right there in the press release:

"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."

To me, that means the actual teams, stadiums, playbooks, etc. can all be in the game if the schools so choose.  My question is what portion of the structure of college football could also be in the game.  If you need the ncaa to license such things as conferences, bowl game names, trophies, etc. it's hard for me to imagine the game continuing.  But, if it simply can't use the term "NCAA" or its logo, I don't see why the game can't continue basically as is.

One other issue that's left unsaid, is that if the member institutions of the NCAA voted not to continue to license their institutional property, how likely is it that the same members choose to continue their individual relationships?  It may be unlikely, unless there's a general feeling that these lawsuits won't continue if individual players have to sue the schools they're currently representing.  


July 17th, 2013 at 3:08 PM ^

Is that they'll have to call the next game "College Football 2015."

They already have deals with the schools for the use of their logos, uniforms, stadiums, etc.  The NCAA could not license those things.  The NCAA was simply giving permission to use its name and logo (and blessing, from an enforcement perspective, the fact that current players were effectively being included in a commerical game).


July 17th, 2013 at 3:11 PM ^

pre-pro football league action game 2015! play with all your favorite fictional players like Denard Robertson of the Schmichigan Schmolverineens, Tom Tebow of the Floridap Graters and Ed O'Bunion of the California University Brewers!


July 17th, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

This is a good example of the danger of unintended consequences that result from legal actions in sports. 

A lot of people are cheering the OBannon lawsuit on, because we don't like the NCAA, but there is a strong probability that a sweeping decision would cause serious problems that never occurred to us. Some of those aren't a huge deal (Title IX forces schools to offer equal scholarships for woman athletes, but for a school like Michigan that just means a more robust women's sports program) but some of them can be. 

The problem is that we just don't know. If EA ceases publishing college football games due to licensing issues, that will sadden many fans. And the OBannon lawsuit, whether you agree with it or not, is the reason.

The much bigger speed bump for football is not revenue, but head injuries. Football needs to stay ahead of the curve and find a solution to the problem, because if a court or congress gets involved, we may find our sport changed in serious, irrational, fundamental ways with no recourse to change it.


July 17th, 2013 at 3:46 PM ^

College football is not the big target--the NFL is, and an NFL court loss in a key case could be catastrophic for everyone.

Without getting political (I hope) the way congress could get involved could start from the bottom, from an OSHA investigation or analogous process that gets swept into congress due to the massive public interest.


July 17th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

The NCAA was exploiting its student-athletes. The lawsuit has forced them to stop doing so in this particular way for the time being. They're still going to lose the lawsuit, and the relationship they've had with EA up until now is still going to be one of the central reasons. Further, there is still going to be money to be made by licensing video games in the post-O'Bannon landscape. The primary difference will be that some of it might actually go to the people whose hard work creates the opportunity to make the product in the first place.


July 17th, 2013 at 4:18 PM ^

The lawsuit is intended to spread some of the revenue to the players who are playing. The potential cessation of a popular video game franchise is not the intent, nor would its cessation result in any additional revenues being distributed to those players.

It's unclear what effects the lawsuit will have on college sports if it is successful. You don't know what will happen, and neither does anybody else. It is possible that the "stipend" program that was proposed by the schools that actually make money simply comes back and gets passed, and players get an extra piece of cash with their scholarships; it's also possible that a judge rules that revenues be distributed directly to the players in a way that puts universities in immediate violation of Title IX and forces them to gut their athletic departments to maintain compliance. It's possible that players are simply permitted to make any money they like without having their eligibility affected, which could result in rapid and unexpected changes to the fabric of college sports as we know it as well-to-do boosters offer cushy "endorsement" deals to recruits in return for attending their school of choice, and it's possible that football and basketball are separated from universities entirely, run as licensed franchises that offer moderate salaries but no educational benefits.

We simply don't know. 


July 17th, 2013 at 8:28 PM ^

That's overblown. The continuation of the franchise, maybe after a gap of a couple of years if a union needs to be formed and contracts require complicated renegotiations, is to be expected under 3 of the 4 alternatives you mention. As for the fourth, what reason is there to think the court would go for something that ``puts universities in immediate violation of Title IX,'' etc.?


July 17th, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

Am I wrong in interpreting this as not the end of EA's NCAA football franchise? The way I read it, EA just can't call it "NCAA Football 20xx", and can't use the NCAA's name or logo anywhere. Can't they just call it "College Football 20xx" and continue on, as long as they get the permission from the individual universities?