EA Sports brought hope to NCAA Football fans with a social media post before Monday’s National Championship game.
This led to speculation that EA Sports is bringing the dormant franchise back. Sadly, this isn’t the case. While EA Sports has since confirmed that the post was nothing more than their longing for the franchise, the internet still ran wild with speculation. The hope was that bubble wouldn’t burst.
I’m here to do just that, but first a history lesson.
College athletes are, in the eyes of the NCAA, “amateur athletes.” They are not paid nor are they professional. In addition, any “amateur athlete” wasn’t represented by their actual likeness in a game. Derrick Henry, Heisman winning running back from Alabama, would have simply been “RB #2.” Still, former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon filed a lawsuit against the NCAA claiming that the organization used player likenesses for commercial purposes. This would, obviously, include video games. Electronic Arts was a part of that lawsuit, originally a co-defendant with the NCAA before finalizing a $40 million settlement.
Sufficed to say, this created a lot of legal mess regarding the future of the NCAA franchise. If the games continued, player likeness would also continue and the “amateur athletes” wouldn’t see a dime of that money because, again, the NCAA enjoys making millions of dollars off of these “amateur athletes.” The safest solution for EA Sports was to just discontinue the franchise.
The fallout of that lawsuit is tricky. The NCAA and EA Sports had a falling out, meaning they aren’t on the best speaking terms. EA Sports wants to bring back the franchise with 100% authenticity, which NCAA is, in a nutshell, saying “nope.” This means we’re at a virtual stand-still with only one resolution in sight: if players are going to be paid, then the NCAA will have no problem with their likeness being featured in a commercial product. Currently, however, they are not paid, and what we’d get in the current market is a college football game that is lacking the familiarity of the college football we all know and love.
I’m dying for an all new NCAA Football. You’re dying for an all new NCAA Football. Unless something changes with the way NCAA views its athletes, though, I don’t see it happening; there’s too much legal drama and hoops to jump through.
The following articles from SB Nation were used in this story. In addition, they’ve been a great resource to learn about the future of the NCAA Football franchise: