NCAA Scholarships Class Action

DEFENDANT NAME: National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Pac-12, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the SEC, the ACC
CASE NUMBER: 4:14-md-02541
COURT: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
STATUS: Damages Claims Settled; Injunction Granted After Trial
DATE FILED: 07/11/14

Court Grants Historic Trial Win to College-Athletes in NCAA Scholarships Antitrust Class-Action Lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilkin ruled in favor of a nationwide class of college-athletes challenging NCAA-imposed caps on college-athlete scholarships and granted their requested injunction. Read the press release »

We have contact information for nearly 80% of class members eligible for payment. To confirm your information, follow these instructions.

Hagens Berman represents former college football and basketball players in an antitrust class-action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the NCAA’s most powerful conference members, the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big-12, SEC and ACC, claiming that these entities have agreed in violation of national antitrust laws to unlawfully cap the value of athletic scholarships.

Current or former NCAA athletes seeking more information about the case can contact Hagens Berman at 206-623-7292 or Pearson Simon at 415-433-9000. They can also email

The class-action case represents former NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and men’s and women’s Division I basketball scholarship players who have played from February 2010 to the present within those conferences.

The suit alleges that the NCAA and these five Power Conferences have systematically colluded to disrupt the free market and deprive FBS football and Division I men’s and women’s basketball players of the full economic benefits of their labor. According to the complaint, NCAA rules artificially depress the value of athletic scholarships – known as Grants-in-Aid or GIAs – to typically several thousand dollars less per year, per player, than the actual cost to attend an NCAA school.

Named plaintiff – Shawne Alston – played on the West Virginia University football team from 2009 to 2013. He played in dozens of games there, including during his junior year, where Alston led his team in touchdowns and yards per carry.  The WVU Mountaineers were ranked in the top 25 for most of the season and played Clemson in the Bowl Championship Series Orange Bowl.  The Mountaineers were underdogs against the 14th-ranked Clemson Tigers.  Alston and his fellow Mountaineers, however, would go on to crush the Tigers 70-33 and set several bowl records for scoring.  Alston suffered multiple serious injuries while playing football at WVU.  He graduated in the summer of 2012, only three years after first enrolling at WVU.  After graduating, Alston continued taking classes at WVU. 

Plaintiff Alston received yearly grant-in-aid scholarships from WVU that were intended to cover all tuition and registration fees, required course-related fees, room, meals and required textbooks, but was significantly lower than the cost of attendance. Alston attempted to make up the difference, which was extraordinarily difficult, through the use of loans and borrowing money from friends and family.  Often, however, Alston did not have enough food  to eat or sufficient clothes for the cold winters.

In 2015, Alston earned his MBA from University of the Southwest with a specialization in law enforcement. Since 2015, he and his cousin have co-owned and operated a wine and piano bar in Hampton. He is also currently in the process of opening a sports bar in Newport News. He ultimately plans to go to law school.

The complaint alleges that in a market unrestricted by NCAA and member restrictions on GIAs, schools would compete for heavily recruited athletes like Alston and pay at least the full cost of attendance. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prohibit any agreement on capping GIAs and past damages for players who had to pay the difference between their scholarship and the cost of attendance as a result of the illegal agreement.

The complaint alleges that each of the five Power Conference Defendants has stated that they would implement an increase in GIAs, and that every FBS and Division I player would likely receive additional compensation above the cost of attendance, if they were not bound by collusive agreements with other Division I schools.

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 suit was filed on behalf of FBS football players and Division I basketball players by lead attorneys Steve Berman and Bruce Simon. Berman is the managing partner of Hagens Berman and the lead attorney in related cases Owens v. NCAA, in which football players are challenging the NCAA’s neglects to protect student-athletes from concussions, and Keller v. NCAA, in which student-athletes are challenging the NCAA's ability to sell their likeness to video-game publishers.

Simon is a lead partner at Pearson Simon, and one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys in O’Bannon v. NCAA, where student-athletes challenged the NCAA’s restraints on players sharing in the licensing of their images in products such as live broadcasts.

The complaint requested past damages to compensate class members for the difference between the value of scholarships and the actual cost of attending school, and also requests an injunction to enjoin defendants from continuing to enforce their anticompetitive rules.

In late 2017, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken granted final approval of a $208 million settlement on behalf of tens of thousands of current and former college-athletes impacted by the prior NCAA cap on grant-in-aid scholarships. Affected college-athletes can visit the settlement website for an estimated calculation of their individual recovery and eligibility. Currently, distribution of the settlement proceeds is being held up pending resolution of the Ninth Circuit appeal of Darrin Duncan, the only person out of 53,748 class members to object to the deal.

On March 8, 2019, Judge Wilken ruled in favor of the nationwide class of college-athletes and granted their requested injunction. The injunction will prohibit the NCAA from enforcing any rules that fix or limit education-related compensation and benefits provided to college-athletes by schools or conferences in consideration for their athletic services. According to the Court, the NCAA is “permanently restrained and enjoined from agreeing to fix or limit compensation or benefits related to education” that conferences or schools may make available.  Judge Wilken held that “the [NCAA’s] rules that permit, limit, or forbid student-athlete compensation and benefits do not follow any coherent definition of amateurism,” and that “[w]hile the evidence shows that student-athletes benefit from receiving a college education, it does not support the notion that any such benefits arise out of, or are caused by, the challenged compensation limits.”


In re: National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletic Grant-in-aid Cap Antitrust Litigation

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03/08/19: Court Grants Historic Trial Win to College-Athletes in NCAA Scholarships Antitrust Class-Action Lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilkin ruled in favor of a nationwide class of college-athletes challenging NCAA-imposed caps on college-athlete scholarships and granted their requested injunction. Read the press release »

02/06/19: CASE UPDATE

On December 6, 2017, the Court entered an Order granting Final Approval for the Settlement.  Unfortunately, there was one objector to the Settlement who has filed an appeal from the Final Approval Order, which means distributions to Class Members cannot begin until that appeal is resolved.  It is now in the hands of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  In the meanwhile, Class Members can still submit address changes and substitute W-9 forms through the Estimated Recovery link.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has set the appeal for an oral argument hearing on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.  According to the Ninth Circuit Court’s website, “most cases are decided within 3 months to a year” of the argument date. 

Previously, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit set the following briefing schedule for the appeal:    

Appellant’s (Objector’s) opening brief due on May 21, 2018. The Objector's Opening brief can be seen here

Appellees’ (Plaintiff Student-athletes’) answering brief due on June 20, 2018. In an effort to speed up the process, Class Counsel filed the Student-athletes’ answering brief early on June 7, 2018.  That answering brief can be seen here.

On June 7, 2018, Class Counsel also filed separate motions with the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to (1) Dismiss the Objector’s Appeal or, in the alternative, to Summarily Affirm the Settlement, and (2) impose Sanctions on the Objector and his Attorney.  Those motions, as well as a Declaration in support can be seen here.

On June 15, 2018, District Court Judge, Claudia Wilken, issued an Order imposing a $5,000 appeal bond on the Objector.  Pursuant to that Order, the Objector had until June 25, 2018 to submit proof to the Court of his satisfaction of the bond requirement or proof of his withdrawal of the appeal.  Judge Wilken’s Order on the bond can be seen here.

On June 17, 2018, the Objector filed an opposition to Class Counsel’s motions to (1) Dismiss the Objector’s Appeal or, in the alternative, to Summarily Affirm the Settlement, and (2) impose Sanctions on the Objector and his Attorney.  That Opposition can be seen here.

On June 22, 2018, Class Counsel filed reply briefs in support of their motions to (1) Dismiss the Objector’s Appeal or, in the alternative, to Summarily Affirm the Settlement, and (2) impose Sanctions on the Objector and his Attorney.  Those reply briefs can be seen here and here.

On June 25, 2018, the Objector filed a Notice that he has posted the appeal bond with the U.S. District Court.  That Notice can be seen here.

On August 22, 2018, the Court of Appeals issued an Order denying Class Counsel’s motion to dismiss the appeal and referring Class Counsel’s motion to impose sanction on the Objector and his Attorney to the panel assigned to decide the merits of the appeal.  That Order can be seen here.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rules on over 12,000 appeals each year and currently has a large backlog of pending appeals.  We appreciate your patience as we await a ruling from the Court and we will keep you informed as soon as we know of any ruling or update.

01/31/18: Plaintiffs Seek Bond Against Objector

The class has asked the court to issue a $78,893 appeal bond against Darrin Duncan, the only person out of 53,748 class members to object to the $208 million deal. Read the court document here »

“There are over 40,000 student athletes ready to receive an average check of $4,000 and they are being held up by one objector who is represented by a professional objector," counsel for the athletes Steven Berman told Law360. "The objection is frivolous and this lawyer should be held accountable for the delay, that’s why we brought the motion.” 

11/17/17: Federal Judge Granted Final Approval of $208M Settlement

A federal judge has granted final approval of a $208 million settlement on behalf of tens of thousands of current and former NCAA Division 1 student-athletes, ending a novel 2014 antitrust class-action lawsuit stating the NCAA and its power conferences deprived the class of the full cost of attendance and illegally capped scholarships, according to Hagens Berman. Read the press release

“We are pleased with the settlement and look forward to distributing the fund to student athletes early next year,” said Steve Berman, Co-Lead Interim Class Counsel. Affected class members can visit the claims site for FAQs about how to file their claim, notice of the settlement and distribution of funds.

04/07/17: Settlement Pending Court Approval

With the $208.6 million settlement pending court approval in the NCAA grant-in-aid class-action lawsuit, the parties have made available a claims website for affected student-athletes.

03/21/17: $208 Million Settlement Preliminarily Approved

On Mar. 21, 2017, a federal judge preliminarily approved a $208 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by student-athletes against the NCAA alleging it unlawfully capped athletic scholarship values.

Direct notice mailing to affected class members is to begin on Aug. 21, 2017.

Read the latest press release for more information »

02/03/17: Statement from Steve Berman on $208M NCAA Antitrust Settlement

This is a watershed settlement – recovering nearly all of the damages in the case. We’re incredibly pleased with this settlement that brings student-athletes the payment and recognition they deserve. The range of average distribution for class members who played his or her sport for four years at schools who we have shown would have paid more to these kids is currently estimated to be between $5,000 to $7,500. In this area of multimillion-dollar coaches' salaries, and billion-dollar deals and endorsements, it’s time for the NCAA to treat the athletes fairly who make this possible. Only after we filed our case in 2014 did the NCAA amend its bylaws to allow colleges to provide up to the cost of attendance in athletically related aid. And when the court approves the settlement we have reached, student-athletes will finally be getting their fair share of the billions the NCAA rakes in each year in profits from their talent. This settlement is a major victory for student athletes nationwide.”

- Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney representing the class of student-athletes 


08/05/16: Statement from Steve Berman

"The student athletes who are part of this class are pleased that the court agrees we can go forward and challenge the NCAA’s unlawful restraints on the aid that can go to student athletes. In this area of multimillion-dollar coaches' salaries, and billion dollar deals and endorsements, it’s time to treat the athletes fairly who make this possible. We aren’t trying to get them cash, but absent the illegal restraints, schools would offer these athletes educationally related benefits to compete for their playing for a given school."
— Steve W. Berman

05/31/16: Athletes Respond

05/31/16: Athletes have responded to the latest attempt by the NCAA to stop the Alston/Jenkins scholarship case from continuing. more »

12/04/15: Judge Grants Class Certification in NCAA Scholarships Class-Action Lawsuit

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.

10/08/15: Statement from Steve Berman

“Our Alston v. NCAA class action was the first case filed that addressed the issue of proper compensation for college athletes, separate from the image rights cases that we also started with the Keller v. Electronic Arts and NCAA litigation. We are pleased that the Jenkins case attorneys agree with our approach and are joining together with us. The NCAA had tried to use a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, and told the Court that the cases can’t proceed together. The NCAA has failed. Upon court approval, the two groups of attorneys will formally join together to seek fair economic treatment for college athletes. We consider it the antitrust dream team.” — Steve Berman, Managing Partner, Hagens Berman

06/04/14: Big Win for Student Athletes

"A big win in our fight for student athletes today. The MDL panel, over the objection of the NCAA and all of the Power Conferences, has ordered the cases to be consolidated and heard before Judge Wilken who has years of experience with these issues from the Keller and O’Bannon cases." — Steve Berman, Managing Partner, Hagens Berman