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NCAA opts not to re-up with EA Sports on video game

If you're a fan of EA Sports' "NCAA Football" franchise of video games, make sure you get your hands on the latest version: It will be the last one under the current format.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that it will not renew its contract with EA Sports, meaning the "NCAA Football 2014" now on sale -- the one with former Michigan QB Denard Robinson on the cover -- is the final version.

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The NCAA's 21-year deal with EA Sports expires in June 2014.

The game's cover always has featured a star player whose eligibility has expired. That's because under NCAA rules, current players can't be used on the cover.

The NCAA is fighting a lawsuit brought by former players -- the so-called Ed O'Bannon suit -- that demands a cut of the proceeds garnered by such games. In a statement, the NCAA said it was "confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games. But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA."

The statement went on to point out that the NCAA "never" has licensed the use of current student-athletes to EA and also says, "The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes." That statement, of course, is at the heart of the O'Bannon lawsuit.

The NCAA also said that its member universities will have to "independently decide" whether to continue to license their trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game. Presumably, that would mean that EA Sports could continue to market the game but without any identifying player names or use of the NCAA name or logo.

UPDATE: EA Sports released a statement in response to the NCAA's decision:

"By now, most fans will have heard that EA's licensing agreement with the NCAA is set to expire and that we have agreed to part ways. I'm sure gamers are wondering what this means.

"This is simple: EA Sports will continue to develop and publish college football games, but we will no longer include the NCAA names and marks. Our relationship with the Collegiate Licensing Company is strong and we are already working on a new game for next generation consoles which will launch next year and feature the college teams, conferences and all the innovation fans expect from EA Sports.

"We took big creative strides with this year's college game and you'll see much more in the future. We love college football and look forward to making more games for our fans."

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