By: Brian Kowalski
We are nearly a month away from the start of the college football season and NIL deals are making national headlines once again, but this time the commotion is happening in the video game industry. EA (Electronic Arts) Sports announced on Twitter on February 2, 2021 that they were bringing back the NCAA College Football game in Summer 2024. EA Sports has not released a college football game since 2013 because of lawsuits regarding the use of players’ name, image, and likeness. Fast forward now to ten years later, NCAA athletes can now profit off their name, image, and likeness which has led to the college football games long-awaited return.
EA Sports announcement of the game’s return has brought excitement to college football fans everywhere, but EA still has a huge question they have to answer before releasing the much anticipated game. What will the financial compensation be for players who opt-in to the game?
Although there has not been any statement from EA about what player compensation would be, “A source indicated that the cash pool was in the $5 million neighborhood, which would pay out to $500 per player, ” according to Pete Nakos of On3. This reported plan has caused a load of backlash from members in the college football community.
Jason Stahl, Executive Director of the College Football Players Association, expressed that players should boycott the game. Stahl’s Newsletter stated, “The $500 figure is obviously absurdly low,” compared to the $28,000 the average NFL player makes from EA’s Madden NFL.
CFB’s star players have also voiced their concerns about the reported compensation plan, including Oklahoma quarterback General Booty. Booty told Andy Wittry of On3, “Some of the big guys, you know, that deserve it, that have been playing, starting for a couple of years, put up the numbers, they may have to sit down and negotiate with them because that’s going to ruin the game if they don’t have some of these star guys in there.”
In the face of all the controversy, EA Sports came out with a statement about a potential compensation plan. EA told Chris Vannini of The Athletic, “There has been speculation around our plans, but it is just that — speculation. To be clear, we have not yet made any offers to any college athletes for this game.” EA also announced that they expect the game to be released on time despite the rumors.
EA Sports has now gotten a first hand look at the business aspect of the NIL, which some describe as the "wild, wild west." They do have a chance however, to create a compensation plan that would be fair to all college football players. But what is a fair amount of compensation to give to these players? Does EA give certain players a share in the game’s equity? Will they offer a percentage of the game’s sales to the players? These are just a few of the difficult questions that EA Sports will have to answer in the next few months before the launch of their new game.