Photo courtesy of Joe Robbins – Getty
Just weeks ago EA Sports broke the internet with their announcement of the return of an NCAA Football franchise. The original EA NCAAF series was widely considered as the best sports gaming franchise, but was discontinued in 2013 after O’Bannon v. NCAA deemed it an exploitation of the players NIL (Name, Image, Likeness). While news of a reboot brought out sports gamers everywhere, the company was still unable to achieve the players NIL rights, instead opting for licensing from the programs themselves paired with generic customizable rosters.
This is a fantastic compromise in theory, and with projects like CFB Revamped showing how dedicated fans are to have realistic custom rosters it’s not really a big deal to not have the players included. In reality most players lean into the dynasty mode as their proverbial drink of choice, rendering the current roster irrelevant beyond the first 4 years.
With most schools appearing to be on board, is it really a surprise that Notre Dame would be the one to try and rain on the parade? The school’s athletic director Jack Swarbrick came out today and said the Irish would not be providing their name, logos, or alternative branding to the game at this time. Swarbrick also added that the school has no intention of doing so until players are promised a share of the game’s profits.
Now, to play devil’s advocate, I’m all for Swarbrick’s proposition here. The players should be able to make money off of their NIL same as you or I, or any other American can because telling someone they can’t violates 99.9% of the principles this country was built on. So yes, Notre Dame has an idea that pretty much everyone can get behind. The problem however, is that this game as currently slated has nothing to do with active players. Withholding the school’s involvement hurts the players more than it helps them by continuing on the run of not being able to play as themselves.
With that being said, Notre Dame will almost certainly be included in the release of the new EA Sports College Football game, gold helmets and all. The game’s release is still years out and with the recent advances made in NIL rights for student athletes there’s no telling what could happen. This garnered the reaction that Swarbrick was looking for, and we will see something change his mind by the time the game rolls out, with or without players being cut in.