The writing was on the wall when the NCAA discontinued its licensing agreement this past summer, but today it became official: EA Sports NCAA Football is no more.
The popular video game series became a key focal point in the growing movement against the NCAA’s current amateurism model for revenue sports, thanks to a lawsuit led by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon.
EA released a statement on its company blog Thursday, an excerpt of which is included below:
Today I am sad to announce that we will not be publishing a new college football game next year, and we are evaluating our plan for the future of the franchise. This is as profoundly disappointing to the people who make this game as I expect it will be for the millions who enjoy playing it each year. I’d like to explain a couple of the factors that brought us to this decision.
We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football. 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 Meanwhile, the NCAA and a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of our game.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 – one that challenges our ability to deliver an authentic sports experience, which is the very foundation of EA SPORTS games.
After EA Sports cancelled its college basketball series in 2010, NCAA Football remained as the sole college athletic game on the market. Though its discontinuation was seemingly inevitable, there’s still some surprise to the announcement. There had been discussion of EA forging on with a college football product without official NCAA licensing.
From its humble beginnings as Bill Walsh College Football, the series was arguably the second most recognizable in EA Sports’ library. Were my Sega Genesis still functioning, I would break out Bill Walsh and run a few farewell Student Body Rights in honor of the fallen series.