College sports is big business. Student-athletes generate truckloads of cash for their schools, but are prohibited by NCAA rules from sharing in the haul. In fact, if the student-athlete learns that someone is commercially exploiting his or her name or picture, NCAA rules require the student “to take steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.” (Wouldn’t we all have loved to have had that problem in college….)
Given this state of affairs, when Electronic Arts made its NCAA Football games using the likenesses of college athletes, it could not have obtained licenses from the students even if it had wanted to. That would have violated NCAA rules. So what happens when EA uses the likenesses of college athletes without permission, makes a bunch of money, and then doesn’t compensate the students? After graduation, once they are no longer bound by NCAA rules, they all sue, of course!