Travis Hunter, Arch Manning, Nick Singleton and many more are hitting the gridiron — virtually.
OneTeam Partners, a specialist in group licensing and a partner of most major players unions in sports, confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday that the company has contracted with EA Sports to help “facilitate collegiate athletes name and likeness” for their upcoming NCAA Football game, the first released by EA Sports since NCAA Football 14 almost a decade ago.
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According to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, more than 120 FBS schools across all 10 FBS conferences have committed to be included in the game. One school yet to jump in is the University of Notre Dame, however, they have reached out to EA offering to help in the NIL integration.
A report by Sportico’s Eric Jackson on Wednesday reveals the licensing deal features a pool of $5 million available to roughly 10,000 eligible athletes, with a total payout of $500 to all of those who opt into the agreement.
In Feb 2021, EA Sports announced its College Football game would return WITHOUT group licensing.— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) May 17, 2023
Today, @EASPORTS says it will work with @OneTeamPartners to facilitate college athletes' #NIL into the game.
Using NIL without consent would have resulted in very costly litigation. https://t.co/qXMbEVKHUE
This payout is pre-set and does not include royalties, with no room for negotiation, regardless of the name or status of the player.
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This is a massive push in the NIL realm, both for athletes and EA. While other companies are looking to enter the video game space, none are nearly as big as EA Sports, who following the cancellation of NCAA Football in 2014, went on to grow two of the most successful sports video game franchises of all time — FIFA and Madden.
For the athletes, the opportunity to be in a video game is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some, and while $500 may not seem like a huge payday, the opportunity for future compensation is possible, according to Dan Lust, a sports attorney at Moritt Hock & Hamroff LLP and the host of sports law podcast “Conduct Detrimental.”
“While great to see, players may be able to receive some compensation for the game, this is not the result of a typical bargained for exchange,” Lust said. “Revenue sharing in professional sports leagues is specifically negotiated for as in between lawyers for the league and the players association. In the future, if specific teams are able to unionize, the revenue that results from a college sports video game could be a much higher percentage.”
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Lust concluded: “In other words, these recent reports of compensation flowing to players is the floor and certainly not the ceiling.”
EA Sports’ College Football is set to release in 2024. Time to cue up the iconic sound — with a new twist.
EA Sports, *they’re* in the game.