Electronic Arts will not produce a college football game next year, the video game manufacturer announced in a statement posted on its website Thursday. The company also said it may stop doing so permanently because of the threat of litigation concerning the use of the athletes' names and likenesses.
"We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football," Cam Weber, general manager of American Football, wrote in the statement. "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"Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game.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."
In July, the NCAA announced it would not renew its contract with EA Sports. The deal had been in place for 21 years. In a statement, the NCAA also said that its member universities would have to "independently decide" whether to continue to license their trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game.
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Two days later, EA Sports announced it had entered into an agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company, which oversees the licensing of more than 150 college football programs. At the time, it was presumed the game would continue to be produced, but under a different name -- almost certainly "College Football" instead of "NCAA Football." Thursday's announcement means that won't happen, at least for a year.
The upshot: The "NCAA Football 2014" now on sale -- the one with former Michigan QB Denard Robinson on the cover -- might be the final version of a college football game produced by EA Sports.
As for the lawsuits filed against the company, USA Today reported that EA Sports filed documents with the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week asking it to take up the two cases in which EA had suffered adverse rulings from separate panels of federal appeals court judges.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.