NCAA to end deal with EA Sports
NEW YORK -- The NCAA said Wednesday it won't allow Electronic Arts Inc. to use its logo and name in video games while it fights a lawsuit that says the governing body owes billions of dollars to former players for allowing their likenesses to be used for free.
The NCAA said it won't enter into a new contract with EA Sports beyond the current one that expires in June 2014. That means "NCAA Football 2014" will be the last edition of the popular game. However, EA Sports still plans to produce a college football video game depicting powerhouse schools such as Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon.
"Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game," the NCAA said in a statement. "They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future."
The Collegiate Licensing Company, which manages the trademarks of the majority of the colleges in Electronic Arts' NCAA football video game, said Wednesday it would continue to work with the video game maker for future editions of the franchise.
"EA Sports' trademark licensing agreement with the NCAA is set to expire, and the company will be re-branding its college football game so as to exclude the NCAA's name and marks," said Andrew Giangola, spokesman for IMG College, which owns CLC, in a statement.
The first non-NCAA-affiliated EA Sports college football video game will be called "College Football 15," a source told ESPN.
"EA Sports will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer include the NCAA names and marks," said EA executive vice president Andrew Wilson. "Our relationship with the Collegiate Licensing Co. 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, conferences and all the innovation fans expect from EA Sports."
The NCAA is in the midst of a long legal battle that started with a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon.
The suit has expanded to include several former athletes who claim the NCAA and EA Sports have used their names and likenesses without compensation and demand the NCAA find a way to give players a cut of the billions of dollars earned from live broadcasts, memorabilia sales and video games.
"We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games," the NCAA said. "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."
The plaintiffs in the case against the NCAA would not be able to use the elimination of the EA Sports partnership as admissible evidence of the NCAA's guilt in court.
Information from ESPN's Darren Rovell and Brett McMurphy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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