EA’s current licensing agreement with the NCAA ends next June but the organization decided to announce the decision now in order to provide EA notice for future planning.
“We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games,” the NCAA said in a statement. “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 litigation referred to in the statement is an on-going class-action lawsuit against former NCAA athletes who claim the NCAA profited off the use of their likenesses in video games. In the statement, the NCAA said it has no involvement in licenses between EA and former collegiate athletes.
Ending the agreement with EA means NCAA Football 14 will be the last officially licensed college football game. However, EA will continue the series by licensing trademarks and intellectual properties directly from individual colleges and universities. The Collegiate Licensing Company handles licensing for each individual school.
“Our relationship with the Collegiate Licensing Company is strong and we are already working on a new game for next generation consoles which will launch next year and feature college teams, leagues and feature all the innovation fans expect from the EA Sports,” Executive Vice President of EA Sports Andrew Wilson said in a statement published on the EA website.
Although EA plans to move forward with a college football series, it will have to do so without NCAA branding. EA could also turn to using likenesses of former NCAA athletes, as seen in NCAA Football 14’s Ultimate Team mode.
“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,” a spokesman for The Collegiate Licensing Company said in a statement.
EA agreed it would not renew its current agreement with the NCAA for at least five years in a settlement made for a separate lawsuit last June. The developer and publisher did have the ability to negotiate a new agreement without exclusivity.
The NCAA Basketball franchise from EA ended with the 2009 title NCAA Basketball 10. EA began its NCAA football offering with Bill Walsh College Football in 1993.