In a move that shows just how seriously the NCAA is taking pending litigation, the NCAA has released a press release indiciating that they will not renew their contract with EA Sports to allow school names, trademarks, etc in further editions of the highly popular NCAA football series.
The full text of the statement is below:
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.
While it's technically possible for the NCAA to partner with another video game studio, that would defeat the entire point of declining to continue their relationship with EA. If somebody wants to develop a college football video game, they won't be able to use any official trademarks.
There is precedent for this, as the old Bill Walsh College Football games for the Sega lacked the licenses, setting up exciting Columbus vs State College matchups. Looks like that's what we'll be doing over the next offseason, unless there are additional legal developments.
That means the last athlete to grace the cover of an NCAA football game was Denard Robinson. Sometimes, the world is cruel.
UPDATE 3:10 CST--Jason Kirk at the Dot Com explains how EA Sports can continue to make a game without the NCAA, but it will require additional paperwork, either licensing through each school individually, or via a conference. Many important likenesses that the games use are outside the NCAA, but it's still possible that every school does not sign on.
Update 3:13 CST- Brett McMurphy of ESPN is reporting that EA Sports WILL make another game, called College Football 15.