Statement from Hagens Berman Regarding the Fontenot Claims Amid NCAA NILs Settlement

We think it’s important to add context to actions coming this week from a law firm objecting to a potential settlement with the NCAA, the details of which have not yet been seen by that firm. Hagens Berman’s team has been litigating compensation issues with the NCAA for a decade. Word of a possible global settlement surfaced last summer. When the court approved House as a class action in November 2023, a set of lawyers many months later, when the momentum appeared to be on our side, filed a case in Colorado attempting to insert themselves into the issues over NCAA compensation late in the game. They are apparently led by Korein Tillery who has unsuccessfully engaged in this type of maneuver before.

A Late and Unsuccessful Attempt to Derail Landmark Real Estate Settlement

Korein Tillery is a law firm with a history of this behavior and is attempting to repeat their efforts. Old habits die hard. Hagens Berman and other firms recently reached settlements in a monumental real estate antitrust class action concerning broker commissions. The case received national attention and recognition that it may save Americans hundreds of millions in real estate commissions. In this matter, Korein Tillery tried and failed to stand in the way of what now amounts to more than $900 million in aggregate settlements and rule changes in how commissions are set. Their objections were swiftly overruled by two federal judges.

House/Hubbard/Carter NCAA Cases

Similarly, as a settlement inches closer in our NCAA name, image and likeness litigation and payment cases, Korein Tillery has attempted to force its way into the litigation. We are highly confident their efforts will be overruled, yet see it important to draw attention to certain facts to put their objections in context.

1. A Strong Precedent Favors Athletes in the Northern District of California
Our Keller/O’Bannon/Alston trilogy of NCAA successes have set a strong precedent of the law upholding the rights of college athletes in the Ninth Circuit and Northern District of California. Korein Tillery and the Colorado group argues the case should be handled in the Eighth Circuit, where no such precedent exists. It is not in the best interests of the athletes to avoid favorable precedent. Any impartial lawyer can confirm that.

2. A Judge with a Wealth of Experience in NCAA Pay and NIL Issues
We have tried these cases before a judge who has handled these specific issues for 10 years and is steeped with wisdom in this area. This is the best venue for the class and for these issues to be decided. Any impartial lawyer reviewing the history and painstaking work of Judge Wilken would confirm that. We mean no disrespect to the Colorado court, but it’s hard to ignore the wealth of knowledge Judge Wilken has on these issues.

3. A Settlement Prevents NCAA Congressional Efforts
Hagens Berman and our co-counsel Winston & Strawn have fought the NCAA’s efforts to pass a federal law that would wipe out this case. This effort has resurfaced often in Congress for several years, and our firms stood to meet this challenge. Each time we rose to the fight, Korein Tillery was absent.

4. Significant Payouts to Athletes
Scholars and legal commentators acknowledge that our Alston case, decided 9-0 by the U.S. Supreme Court, opened the door for NCAA rule changes that allowed certain NIL payments. Hundreds of millions of dollars in payments flowed to college athletes as a result. Where was Korein Tillery and the Colorado lawyers in this effort and revolutionary moment? Again, they were not present. The future value of these payouts is $20 to $40 billion, depending on future increases in media and other revenues over the 10-year period. We ask, do these lawyers who haven’t been litigating in this space really want to set that aside? That’s not a good bet for college athletes.

5. $2.7B in Back Damages & $20B+ in Future Revenues to Athletes
Substantial sums will be made available to NCAA college athletes, amounts they were not expecting or entitled to until Hagens Berman and Winston & Strawn took up this effort. Where were the Colorado lawyers in achieving this payout? Absent.

6. We Have Fought the NCAA for 20 Years
In court on May 23, 2024, the Fontenot lawyers claimed this was an “inside deal.” Nonsense. This month marks the 20th anniversary of legal battles over NCAA compensation. We have conducted one trial, four appeals, a U.S. Supreme Court case and litigated House/Hubbard and Carter. No law firm has fought harder and longer. Where was Korein Tillery? Absent.

7. Fontenot Wasn’t First
In a recent podcast, a lawyer in Fontenot claims the case was the first of its kind to attach pay-for-play rules. This is astonishingly inaccurate. It appears these lawyers didn’t read Hagens Berman’s Alston case which they cite in their own complaint. Had they read their own citations, they would have realized that our firm brought pay-for-play claims in Alston and lost. Where were these lawyers in this fight? Absent. It was our victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in Alston that opened the doors for an attack on pay-for-play.

8. Future Players’ Rights Will Be Protected
In a podcast, the Fontenot lawyer wildly claims that we are binding a fourth grader to the settlement without due process. Again, another false and wildly wrong claim. All future college athletes will have a process to be informed about and object to the settlement. We had the opportunity to explain this to a group of law professors recently, and they left satisfied.

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