Power in Numbers….Pay up NCAA

[(Source: NCAA via MGN)]

On October 21, 2022, attorneys petitioned for the plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit House v. NCAA to receive class certification in their complaint seeking to end the NCAA’s restrictions on athletes’ ability to profit off their name, image and likeness while in school. [1] There are four established classes. The first is an injunctive relief class encompassing all Division I athletes who competed from June 15, 2020 (the date of the complaint) through the case’s judgment, which is slated for trial in September of 2024. The goal of this class is to change the current NCAA rules on NIL via a court order. The other three classes are damages classes in search of monetary compensation. There is a football and men’s basketball class featuring Division I football and men’s basketball players who have competed collegiately since June 15, 2016, a women’s basketball class, and an additional sports class that also date back to 2016.  [2] 

This class action lawsuit potentially involving thousands of athletes was primarily brought by high profile athletes such as Arizona State men’s swimmer Grant House, Oregon women’s basketball player Sedona Prince, and former Illinois football player Tymir Oliver. [3] Grant House contends that the NCAA is putting college athletes who are prospective Olympians at a huge disadvantage because their ability to fund Olympic training efforts are squashed by the NCAA’s restrictions. [4] Olympic athletes generally rely heavily on endorsements and other image deals to afford the cost of training, but the NCAA’s NIL rules shut them out of that opportunity. [5] Sedona Prince drew attention to disparities in the treatment of athletes in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments previously by posting Tik Toks showing the shocking difference in treatment that women receive compared to their male peers. Tymir Oliver wants to recover the damages he would have been paid absent the NCAA’s NIL rules. Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking what could likely be hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. [6] 

The precedents paving the way are O’Bannon v. NCAA and NCAA v. Alston, the latter of which ended with the NCAA losing a unanimous verdict before the Supreme Court. These cases sought injunctions that would change the NCAA’s rules, while this case seeks recovery based upon injury caused by those rules. 

“It’s not as though Defendants do not have the means to share with athletes the billions of dollars in broadcast revenues that their NILs help to generate for Defendants,” the brief adds. College players “play in stadiums and arenas that are filled with logos—endorsements of companies that compensate their colleges—and they compete on national television in uniforms and shoes licensed by their schools.” [7]

            The suit specifically aims to tackle television revenue sharing and the NCAA’s limitation on usage of college athletes in video games. The case specifies how the athlete’s NILs “help to generate” billions in television earnings, but they were denied earnings when the NCAA prevented EA sports from licensing those same NILS. Thousands of athletes would be entitled to damages. Further, it is true that the NCAA does have the revenue to share, but will they continue to fight? Or will they cough up hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to the athletes? Connor Johnson, a fellow colleague, and President of the Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Law Society highlights many of the important ramifications and details of NIL and can be seen in these articles [https://ublawsportsforum.com/2022/04/18/academic-performance-checks-a-form-of-player-compensation-and-its-impact-on-financial-aid/] and [https://ublawsportsforum.com/2022/02/28/nil-domino-effect-makes-its-way-to-high-school-sports/]. More can be found on his page which I have also included: [https://ublawsportsforum.com/author/connorjohnson7/]

[1] https://swimswam.com/grant-house-seeking-class-status-in-lawsuit-for-lost-nil-pay

[2] Id

[3] Id

[4] Id

[5] Id

[6] https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/sports-teams/ncaa-class-action-over-nil-restrictions-seeks-certification

[7] https://swimswam.com/grant-house-seeking-class-status-in-lawsuit-for-lost-nil-pay/

[8] https://www.thenexthoops.com/features/morning-post-up-oct-30-2022-nil-antitrust-lawsuit-ncaa-sedona-prince/

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