Suit alleging NCAA antitrust violations to Grants-in-Aid allowed to
continue for three classes of Division 1 student-athletes
SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A U.S. District Court Judge today granted certification to three classes
of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1
student-athletes, allowing a first-of-its-kind antitrust
class action to continue against the NCAA and the NCAA’s most
powerful conference members the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big-12, SEC and ACC,
according to law firm, Hagens Berman.
The firm began the effort
to aid student-athletes in 2014 and has also been appointed lead
counsel for the group of consolidated plaintiffs in the suit alleging
that the NCAA and its member conferences violate national antitrust laws
capping the value of athletic scholarships or Grants-in-Aid (GIAs).
“This is an enormous win for student-athletes everywhere,” said Steve
Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “For too long, the NCAA has
taken advantage of scholarship protocols that we believe are in direct
violation of national antitrust laws – effectively cheating
student-athletes who receive scholarships by thousands of dollars each,
Three classes of plaintiffs include thousands of potential class members
– any and all NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football
players, NCAA Division I men’s basketball players and NCAA Division I
women’s basketball players who, received or will receive a written offer
for a full grant-in-aid from any time from the date of the complaint
through the date of the final judgment.
The suit alleges that the NCAA and these five power conferences have
systematically colluded to disrupt the free market and deprive FBS
football players of the full economic benefits of their labor. According
to the complaint, NCAA rules artificially depress the value of athletic
scholarships to typically several thousand dollars less per year, per
player, than the actual cost to attend an NCAA school.
Additionally, the complaint alleges that the defendants, “repeatedly
claim powerlessness, year after year, to change their lucrative status
quo, because smaller NCAA members won’t agree to the change. Were the
Defendant Conferences to act unilaterally, each would raise the GIA cap
above the current levels.”
The order states, “…Plaintiffs allege in their complaints that the NCAA
and its member institutions violate federal antitrust law by conspiring
to impose the cap on the amount of compensation a school may provide a
student-athlete. Plaintiffs assert that, without the NCAA’s cap on GIAs,
schools would compete in recruiting student-athletes by providing more
generous GIAs. Plaintiffs seek an injunction against the GIA cap.
Consolidated Plaintiffs seek, in addition to an injunction, damages for
the difference between the GIAs awarded and the cost of attendance.”
“Here, although Defendants suggest that class members might prefer to
leave an unlawful restraint in place because they otherwise would have
to compete against one another, such preference for non-competition does
not justify denying injunctive relief class certification.”
“The NCAA and these power conferences are making money hand over fist,”
Berman added. “We believe that it’s past time for the NCAA to adequately
recognize the hard work of these student-athletes.”
The same court previously certified a class in In re NCAA
Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation (later
titled, O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association), a
case also brought by Hagens Berman.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law
firm with offices in 10 cities. The firm has been named to the National
Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm
and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com.
Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP
Ashley Klann, 206-268-9363