Former college basketball players' anti-trust suit against NCAA, the Collegiate Licensing Company and EA Sports has taken a new turn as emails dug up during the development stage of the game show EA used actual player names in the creation process of its NCAA Basketball titles.
For those unfamiliar with US laws governing NCAA athletes, players are not allowed to be paid or accept endorsements. If EA Sports were to use the players' real names in the game, as with the NBA or NFL, they would be under legal obligation to pay for the use - unless a contract stating otherwise was drawn up. However, with NCAA players, monetary exchange or enforcement gifts are prohibited.
Now that some clarification is out of the way, let's get back to the subject at hand.
Under EA's licensing agreement and terms with the Collegiate Licensing Company, EA was not allowed to use the real names of the amateur athletes in its games.
An email from a CLC representative dated July 2007, states that one of EA's builds of NCAA March Madness 08 featured players' real names in order for the game to "calculate the correct stats," of said basketball player. The representative was worried over use of the players names.
An EA spokeswoman replied to the CLC email, stating that the names would be removed from the game before it was released.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in this case will use the emails as further evidence EA Sports intentionally created in-game characters with marked resemblance to real world NCAA athletes without proper compensation and ultimately, breaching rules laid out by the CLC and NCAA.
If the players are successful in their suit, EA could be out u to $1 billion in damages.