EA Sports' 'NCAA Football 14' video game.
Video game manufacturer Electronic Arts will not publish a version of its college football game next year and it may stop doing so permanently because of litigation concerning the use of the athletes' names and likenesses, the company announced Thursday.
The company also said it is trying to settle the lawsuits that have been filed against it by former athletes. There are three such suits pending, and earlier this week the company filed documents with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to take up the two cases in which EA had suffered adverse rulings from separate panels of federal appeals court judges.
"This is as profoundly disappointing to the people who make this game as I expect it will be for the millions who enjoy playing it each year," Cam Weber, the general manager of American football for EA Sports, wrote in statement posted on the compabny's website.
The statement went on to say: "We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football. Just like companies that broadcast college games and those that provide equipment and apparel, we follow rules that are set by the NCAA - but those rules are being challenged by some student-athletes. For our part, we are working to settle the lawsuits with the student-athletes. Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game. The ongoing legal issues combined with increased questions surrounding schools and conferences have left us in a difficult position - one that challenges our ability to deliver an authentic sports experience, which is the very foundation of EA Sports games."
Former Arizona State and Nebraska football player Sam Keller is pursuing a presumptive class-action related to publicity rights against the NCAA, EA and the nation's leading collegiate trademark licensing firm, Collegiate Licensing Co. over the use of college athletes names and likenesses in video games. In addition, in separate cases, former Rutgers football Ryan Hart and former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston are suing EA.
EA also is a co-defendant in anti-trust case filed by a group of former and current college football and men's basketball players headed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon.
EA this week filed motions seeking Supreme Court review of rulings in the Keller and Hart cases.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs could not be reached for immediate comment.
- Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY Sports