Anyone who plays college sports videogames will know the absurd experience of playing as athletes modeled faithfully in appearance and ability after current college players, who are referred in the game to only by number. This, of course, is a consequence of the NCAA’s prohibition against amateur athletes getting paid, which they would have to be if developers used their names. It’s a letter-of-the-law thing, not a spirit-of-the-law thing, and so you may not be surprised to find out that in the development stages of their now-defunct college basketball series, EA used actual player names:
The information came from emails that are being used as part of an antitrust lawsuit filed against the NCAA, Electronic Arts, and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) by former NCAA college athletes.
Under the terms of EA’s licensing agreement with the CLC, the company could not use the real names of athletes in its games. The stipulation is also a rule in the NCAA’s bylaws on student-athletes. According to an email from a CLC representative (July 2007), EA’s builds of NCAA March Madness 08 featured players’ real names. They were used so “[the game] will calculate the correct stats.” An EA spokeswoman went on to assure the CLC that the names would be removed from the game before it was released.