Judge Denies Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Antitrust Case Challenging NCAA Student-Athlete Scholarship Limits

10/09/2014

Class-action suit against NCAA, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big-12 to continue

SEATTLE – A U.S. district court judge today denied defendants’ motion to dismiss a class-action antitrust case filed against the NCAA and its five most powerful members, allowing the case to continue, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.

The suit brought against the NCAA and the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big-12, SEC and ACC Power Conferences claims that these entities have agreed in violation of federal antitrust laws to cap the value of athletic scholarships – known as Grants-in-Aid – despite the fact that the NCAA’s valuation of athletic scholarships remains thousands of dollars below the actual cost of attending school, and far below what the free market would bear, according to the complaint.

“We see this as another major victory for these student-athletes, and will continue to fight for their rights to receive what is owed to them – fair and equitable Grants-in-Aid and compensation,” said Steve Berman, lead attorney representing the class of student-athletes.

The suit was originally filed March 5, 2014 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and seeks to represent former NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) scholarship players who have played from February 2010 to the present, within those conferences.

“The NCAA and its member schools reap millions of dollars off the backs of these student-athletes, and we believe that these players shouldn’t have to struggle in the face of such significant profits,” Berman added. “We want the schools to live up to the same rules of competition as the athletes. The NCAA and its member conferences should adhere to the same principles that they preach, and pay these kids what they are entitled to in a competitive environment.”

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.

The complaint requests 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. Additionally, the complaint requests the appointment of an External Antitrust Compliance Monitor to ensure that defendants conduct themselves in compliance with the antitrust law, and to provide a mechanism for future judicial oversight of defendants’ operations.

Current or former NCAA athletes seeking more information about the case can contact Hagens Berman at 206-623-7292 or email NCAAscholarships@hbsslaw.com.

More information about these issues is available at /cases/ncaa---scholarships.


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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in nine cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List seven times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Find the firm on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/classactionlaw.

Contacts
Ashley Klann
206-268-9363
AshleyK@hbsslaw.com


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Case Timeline

06/15/18: CASE UPDATE

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has 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.

Objector’s optional reply brief in support of his appeal (if any) is due on June 29, 2018.

Now that the Objector and his attorney have posted the appeal bond with the U.S. District Court, we must await a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the appeal or on the 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.  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.

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