Federal Court Finds in Favor of Student Athlete Class in Lawsuit Against NCAA Stemming from Caps on Grant-in-Aid Scholarships

March 28, 2018 – A federal judge in Oakland, California overseeing a nationwide class action challenging NCAA rules that cap student-athlete scholarships issued a ruling today in favor of the student athlete classes. U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken granted, in part, the student-athletes’ motion for summary judgment and found that the NCAA rules capping Grant-in-Aid scholarship amounts are anticompetitive, causing student-athletes to be compensated at lower levels than they would without the challenged NCAA rules.

The litigation involves an antitrust challenge by three student athlete classes – Division I men’s college football players, and Division I women and men’s college basketball players – that NCAA caps on student-athlete scholarships violate federal antitrust laws. Judge Wilken’s decision is a critical win for the student-athletes, as the student-athletes were found to have presented substantial evidence to show the NCAA caps are anticompetitive, in that they do not allow individual conferences or schools to decide what is in the best interest of student-athletes when it comes to paying athletes’ education-related expenses. The Court’s ruling paves the way for trial. The student-athletes will be allowed to present evidence at trial that their proposed less-restrictive alternative of allowing Division I conferences to compete, and to implement their own procedures for attracting student-athletes while still balancing the integration of academics and athletics, is substantially less-restrictive, and better for student-athletes, than the NCAA’s current scholarship caps. The NCAA, in turn, will need to show at trial why its rationalization for the scholarship caps is justified. A federal court trial is scheduled to start December 3, 2018 in Oakland, CA.

This is the latest order favoring the student-athletes’ case. In November 2017, Judge Wilken granted final approval of a $208 million settlement on behalf of tens of thousands of current and former NCAA Division I student-athletes. Affected NCAA student-athletes can visit the settlement website for more information about the settlement, including a specific calculation of their individual recovery and eligibility: http://www.grantinaidsettlement.com/.

Pritzker Levine LLP represents women’s basketball class representatives Afure Jemerigbe and Justine Hartman, and serves as Additional Class Counsel for the student-athlete classes in the litigation.

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