The last NCAA Football game hit the shelves over six years ago on July 9, 2013. The franchise’s demise came after a lawsuit that accused EA, Collegiate Licensing Company, and the NCAA of illegally using the likeness of real life players in video games and other merchandising. The fallout from the case resulted in a $60 million dollar settlement in favor of collegiate athletes and a stop to NCAA games. Almost seven years later, it looks like NCAA games may be returning sooner than we think.
NCAA Making a Comeback?
No doubt, NCAA games were some of EA’s more popular franchises and arguably made franchise modes across Madden worth playing. Despite the popularity and reception, the series (both football and basketball) were dropped due to pending litigation at the time. The heart of the issue surrounded the fact that student athletes had their likeness used for sponsorship, video games, and other items that made everyone else but the athlete money; however, that soon may be changing.
Throwing a well placed Hail Mary
As of this week, the State Assembly for California passed a bill (SB 206, the Fair Pay To Play Act) allowing college students to be compensated for endorsements. The vote was decisive with a 72-0 in favor. Another bill with aligning goals made its way through the Senate back in May, marking two landmark victories on the road to bringing back the NCAA video game franchises.
California!!! Extremely excited about the bill that passed tonight allowing players to be paid. Finally, we are making some progress and getting this thing right. Kids going to sleep hungry, can’t afford ANYTHING yet these Universities are profiting off those same kids. SIGN IT!!
— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) September 10, 2019
While things look hopeful for SB 206, it is not set in stone just yet. Amendments and provisions are still being discussed to reconcile the different versions as well as include solutions to possible disputes between school endorsements and their athletes. Additionally, SB 206 does not make provisions for colleges to pay their athletes directly. Payments would be from sponsorships and endorsements. Pro athletes like Lebron James, and other high profile backers, like Bernie Sanders, took to Twitter to push the bill’s efforts.
Everyone is California- call your politicians and tell them to support SB 206! This law is a GAME CHANGER. College athletes can responsibly get paid for what they do and the billions they create.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 5, 2019
College athletes are workers. Pay them. https://t.co/PNEefTbS2O
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 6, 2019
Trouble in the RedZone
It’s not all good news though. NCAA President, Mark Emmert, has urged postponement of the bill and even suggested schools in California that follow the bill’s provisions be excluded from NCAA championships. The idea is that such pay would negatively alter the fairness in championship matches as well as some recruiting practices.
The legislation still needs to pass through the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom. There is no guarantee that the legislation will pass. Emmert alone makes reportedly $4 million a year which could equate to some serious lobbying efforts on behalf of the NCAA.
Should the bill pass, it would into effect January 1, 2023. NCAA Football 2024 may be more feasible than previously estimated. It is certainly more likely now than this time last year.
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