Northwestern Becomes 2nd Team to Opt out of EA Sports College Football Video Game, According to Report

Northwestern won't be "in the game." According to a report from Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Northwestern football team is opting out of the upcoming college football video game from EA Sports. The school wants NIL rules to be created and finalized before players can take part in the highly-anticipated video game. Northwestern is the second known school to opt-out of the game with Notre Dame being the first. It was also reported by Northwestern made the decision in January before EA announced college football is coming back.

“Some news: Like Notre Dame, Northwestern will not be participating in the next version of EA Sports College Football until rules are created and finalized that allow players to benefit financially from use of their names, images, performance histories, etc.,” Greenberg wrote on Twitter. “Notre Dame was the first school to publicly announce its decision to hold off on joining the 100-plus schools already signed on to participate. Northwestern made its decision last month, according to an athletic department spokesman….

Greenberg continued: "Illinois, like the vast majority of FBS schools, signed its commitment with Collegiate Licensing Company. According to a spokesman, Illinois is under the impression that, if new NIL rules are passed, EA intends to change its plan to include players with compensation... 'Our approval allows Illinois to be included in the development process,' the spokesman said, 'and we would be supportive of any changes EA may incorporate should NIL pass.'"

EA Sports announced college football is returning on February 2 after being on the sidelines since the summer of 2013. At that time, three major conferences pulled their trademark licenses from EA. Additionally, there were lawsuits involving the use of player likenesses in-game.

"As we look for the momentum that we're building on in sports, it all starts with the passion of our fans and the opportunities of what they are interested in," EA Sports vice president and general manager Daryl Holt told ESPN. "I don't think a visit where I go outside wearing a piece of EA Sports branded apparel, that someone doesn't go, 'Hey, when is college football coming back?'" In October 2019, the NCAA voted to "clear the way for the amateur athletes to 'benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness."