Electronic Arts' NCAA Football licensing deal has gone from non-exclusive to none at all. The NCAA today announced that it will not renew its EA Sports contract for the football series after it ends in June of 2014. The just-launched NCAA Football 14 will be the last release of the partnership.
"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 group's partnership with EA was threatened last year after the publisher settled a lawsuit alleging it held a gaming football monopoly. Under the terms of the settlement, EA agreed to not sign an exclusive deal with the NCAA for five years. The litigation referred to by the NCAA consists of multiple suits brought by former collegiate athletes who say the publisher and the organization are unlawfully profiting from their likenesses without compensation.
While the NCAA won't be appearing in future EA Sports games, that extends primarily to the use of the NCAA name and logo.
"The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA," the group said. "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."
An EA representative did not immediately return a request for comment.
Update: EA has now responded to the NCAA news. On the official EA blog, EA Sports boss Andrew Wilson noted, "EA Sports will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer include the NCAA names and marks. 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 the college teams, conferences and all the innovation fans expect from EA Sports."
"We took big creative strides with this year's college game and you'll see much more in the future. We love college football and look forward to making more games for our fans."