Notre Dame Won't Be in EA Sports' College Football Video Game Pending NIL Rules

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2021

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams, top, is lifted by offensive lineman Landon Dickerson (69) after Williams' touchdown run as Alabama linebacker Christian Harris (8) looks on in the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

Notre Dame announced Monday that it will not appear in EA Sports NCAA Football video game series until the name, image and likeness (NIL) rules are further established.   

School athletic director and vice president Jack Swarbrick made the following statement:

"Notre Dame Athletics welcomes the return of EA Sports College Football, a video game series that has historically helped promote interest in college football. Notre Dame will not, however, participate in the game until such time as rules have been finalized governing the participation of our student-athletes.

"As those rules are developed, it is our strong desire that student-athletes be allowed to benefit directly from allowing their name, image and performance history to be used in the game."

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly also commented on the decision via a post on his Twitter account:

The NIL debate remains one of the most pressing issues facing major college sports going forward. Earlier in February, Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Representative Lori Trahan (D-Massachusetts) co-authored a bill that would make it illegal for the NCAA to put a limit on the amount of money college athletes could make from endorsement deals, per Dan Murphy of ESPN, or determine which sort of deals those athletes could sign.

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"Big-time college athletics look no different than professional leagues, and it's time for us to stop denying the right of college athletes to make money off their talents," Murphy said. "If predominantly white coaches and NCAA executives can have unfettered endorsement deals, why shouldn't predominantly black athletes be afforded the same opportunity?"

That potential legislation could also have a major impact on EA's college football video game franchise going forward since it would make it illegal for the NCAA to prevent multiple college athletes from organizing and selling their likeness rights as a group. 

The NCAA and its president, Mark Emmert, want Congress to establish rules and limits on potential endorsement deals, fearing that they could eventually serve as a de facto salary for certain players and affect the amateurism model that has long benefitted the NCAA, individual schools and major conferences. 

"As a former Division I athlete, I'm all too familiar with the NCAA's business model that for decades has utilized the guise of amateurism to justify obscene profitability while student-athletes have struggled to get by," said Trahan, who was a volleyball player at Georgetown. 

Whatever those NIL rules ultimately end up being, don't expect to see Notre Dame in EA Sports' future games until they're established.