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USATSI

The return of EA Sports' college football video game, announced earlier in February, was a welcome headline for the beloved franchise. One school that will not be participating in the new game, however, is Notre Dame -- at least for now. 

In a statement released on Monday, athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the university would not be joining the upcoming game until Name/Image/Likeness (NIL) rights for athletes have been developed. The new game, which has been given no official release date, will not be able to include names, images or likenesses of players as it stands right now.

"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," Swarbrick said. "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."

Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly then chimed in on the statement through his Twitter account:

It's notable that a major college football brand would publicly announce it's holding out on EA Sports. However, developments for both the upcoming game and college athletes' NIL rights are fluid. In fact, NIL legislation is set to go into effect Aug. 1 for the 2021-22 school year. Several states -- Florida most notably among them -- also have their own NIL laws scheduled to go into effect this year, too. The big question is still about group licensing, something that proposed NIL rules don't cover yet. 

But with NIL changes on the horizon and the new EA game likely not being released until 2022 or 2023 at the earliest, there's plenty of time for Notre Dame -- and any other school -- to reverse field. For now, it's just a stance, albeit the smart one.