Game Over For NCAA And Electronic Arts

The NCAA has announced it is breaking ties with Electronic Arts Inc., the sports gaming company. The move is likely fallout from an ongoing lawsuit that wants the NCAA to compensate current and former student athletes for the money made from broadcasts and video games, among other things.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, for financial analysts, the Fed chairman's voice is certainly a familiar one. For sports nuts, football fans, video game players, there's this voice.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: EA Sports. It's in the game.

GREENE: But that stamp might not be part of one game for much longer.

The NCAA announced Wednesday it is not renewing their contract with EA or Electronic Arts, the maker of the hugely popular college football video game series.

Here's NPR's Nathan Rott.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: EA Sports has been in the college football arena since the days of Super Nintendo and Sega...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN#2: Set. Set. Hike.

ROTT: When Boston College's historical 1984 squad was the team to be in Bill Walsh College Football.

(SOUNDBITE OF GRUNT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Incomplete.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE)

ROTT: Back then, you couldn't tell quarterback Dough Flutie from a slow-motion Lego man on your analog television. Today...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: Ready. Hike.

ROTT: ...you can see the beads of digital sweat in HD clarity.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: And down he goes at the 30.

STEVE BERMAN: If the person is a left-handed quarterback, who has a certain way of stepping back, they replicate that. If he has a tattoo on his arm, you can see the tattoo.

ROTT: And attorney Steve Berman says that's a problem for the player.

BERMAN: EA Sports says if it's in the game, it's in our game. Their whole selling pitch is the unauthorized use of their likeness.

ROTT: That's why he's filed a joint lawsuit against the NCAA and EA Sports on behalf of a former college player in 2006. That lawsuit could involve hundreds of millions of dollars if it becomes class action, and every NCAA football player, from 2006 to now, can claim money for the use of their likeness.

Berman says the NCAA dropped its EA Sports contract because of that lawsuit.

BERMAN: I think it's the only reason they're not renewing the contract. Why wouldn't they?

ROTT: Last year's game has sold nearly a million copies globally. EA Sports says it will continue to make college football games. You just won't see them leading with the letters NCAA.

Nathan Rott, NPR News.

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