The NCAA has voted unanimously in favor of allowing college athletes to profit off of their likenesses, clearing the way for sports video games to be made once again.
If you don’t follow sports games, you might not know that college-level sports effectively stopped being created after a 2014 lawsuit where former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon sued Electronic Arts, the NCAA, and the Collegiate Licensing Company, demanding royalties for his appearance in a video game. EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company ultimately settled for $60 million, but this threw a wrench in the works: the NCAA doesn’t allow its athletes to profit off of their likeness.
This created quite the conundrum: although the NCAA would likely have been willing to allow EA to continue to make college-level sports games, the players could now make a case for demanding payment. However, the sports’ governing body still forbid them to profit off of their likenesses in media; this effectively created a Catch-22.
In response to this, several states have threatened to pass laws which would overrule the NCAA. California, in fact, went far enough that earlier this month they signed a bill allowing players to be paid into law. This more or less forced the sports governing body into a corner, and the results of a recent vote have been very good for people hoping to see college-level sports be represented in video games once again.
NCAA Vote is Just the Beginning
As ESPN reports, the NCAA voted unanimously to begin the process of modifying their rules, ultimately working towards a goal of allowing college athletes to profit from their names and likenesses. This is, however, just the beginning.
Although the process is now underway, the specifics still need to be discussed. The organization seems reluctant to go for a market with few or no restrictions, but their hand may be forced by legislative action.
United States Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC) has proposed a bill that would change the federal tax code. This change would effectively force the NCAA to allow athletes to profit off of their name and likeness. The bill is expected to be brought to a vote sometime in early 2020.
“We clearly have the NCAA’s attention. Now, we need to have their action,” Congressman Walker said. “While their words are promising, they have used words in the past to deny equity and basic constitutional rights for student-athletes.”
What do you think of the NCAA’s vote? Do you think they will create a workable system that will allow the return of college-level sports to video games? Let us know in the comments below!