Former Executive Director of the NBPA and current Director of Seton Hall’s Center for Sport Management Charles Grantham discusses the progress made by student athletes to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness. USA TODAY
In a move that’s already lighting up the gaming world, EA Sports announced it would be rebooting its popular college football video game that had been discontinued since 2013.
According to ESPN, a return date or date to announce when the return will happen hasn’t been set. The game will not be available for the 2021 college football season, however.
“As we look for the momentum that we’re building on in sports, it all starts with the passion of our fans and the opportunities of what they are interested in,” EA Sports vice president and general manager, Daryl Holt told ESPN. “I don’t think a visit where I go outside wearing a piece of EA Sports branded apparel, that someone doesn’t go, ‘Hey, when is college football coming back?’ “
EA Sports has partnered with CLC, a collegiate licensing company, so that it could include the FBS programs, uniforms, traditions and playbooks, according to ESPN. More than 100 teams will be available.
— EASPORTSCollege (@EASPORTSCollege) February 2, 2021
While the gaming community has responded positively, at least one member of Congress did not.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, blasted the news about the rebooted game.
“EA Sports’ college football series reboot is just further proof that the NCAA’s priority is keeping their profits coming while keeping any and all revenue away from their athletes,” Murphy said Tuesday in a statement. “Cutting athletes out of this reboot so they aren’t responsible for paying them for their likeness is a grave injustice, and I’ll be introducing legislation soon to help players finally profit off their talent so they don’t need to face continued mistreatment like this.”
The last college football game the vide game franchise produced was NCAA Football 14 with former Michigan Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson gracing the cover.
The series was discontinued as the debate over student athletes being compensated for their names, images and likenesses (NIL) continued around the country and in legislative bodies. The old video game franchise did not use actual college football player names, but the roster closely mirrored the actual ones with player numbers and positions tied to general physical appearances of those playing on fields on Saturdays.
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban gets dunked with Gatorade after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. (Photo: Douglas DeFelice, USA TODAY Sports)
Legislation has advanced on the NIL issue, which could offer student athletes a chance to profit off of their time playing college football. Current NCAA rules forbid student athletes from selling their name, image or likeness while they are eligible in any athletic program.
Holt told ESPN that EA Sports would monitor changes to the NIL rules, but that the game would proceed either way.
“We’ll just keep tabs on everything as it develops and we’ll be ready,” Holt told ESPN. “That won’t be a problem for us. But it’s really, that’s not an answer for us right now to decide. We’re as much passengers as anyone else.
“So we make sure we deliver what our college football game players would want in a game. And that starts with just a very immersive experience and there’s lots of things we can do to bring the true college game play and game day to the virtual world.”
If certain NIL rights are changed, it could open the path for college football players to have their names, images and likenesses used in the game for monetary gain.
According to ESPN, the name of the franchise will change, with the plan to rebrand it as “EA Sports College Football.” ESPN also reported that the game is in its very early developmental stages.