The NCAA’s decision not to renew EA Sports’ football license is related to an ongoing suit over the alleged misuse of player likenesses, according to the attorney leading the litigation.
Steve Berman, managing partner of law firm Hagens Berman and co-lead counsel in the class-action lawsuit, said the NCAA is trying to duck out of its responsibilities.
“It’s apparent to us that the NCAA’s decision to end its long and hugely profitable relationship with EA is tied directly to the pressure our litigation is bringing the bear,” he said.
“Our suit illustrates how the cabal between the NCAA and EA has exploited student athletes for years, using their images in video games without compensation. While we are heartened they’ve stopped the practice, we believe they owe those student athletes a great deal more than their implied promise to stop stealing their images.
“This announcement makes plain that the NCAA is attempting to mitigate the damage by ducking its responsibilities. We look forward to taking this case to trial and winning compensation for student-athletes whose likenesses were used without their permission, in violation of both the NCAA’s rules and the law.”
The suit was filed on behalf of athletes against both EA and the NCAA; it suit claims characters which appear in NCAA Football games are recreations of real athletes. NCAA members are not permitted to receive royalties under the rules of the collegiate association, but if their likenesses are used in a video game, they are legally entitled to a slice once they end their college sports careers.
EA Sports is caught up in a number of lawsuits at the moment; NCAA Basketball games have also come under fire, and it recently settled an anti-trust suit resulting in payouts to consumers. The last suit ruled out exclusivity agreements between EA and the NCAA, which makes the licensing agreement less worthwhile from EA’s perspective.