Judge Grants Class Certification in NCAA Scholarships Class-Action Lawsuit

12/07/2015

Suit alleging NCAA antitrust violations to Grants-in-Aid allowed to continue for three classes of Division 1 student-athletes

SEATTLE – 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 in unlawfully 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, each year.”

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.

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About 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.

Media Contact
Ashley Klann
ashleyk@hbsslaw.com
206-268-9363


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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 $209 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