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Federal Court Dismisses Bat Manufacturer’s Antitrust Lawsuit

On Monday, March 25, 2013, a federal court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana lawsuit challenging the NCAA’s aluminum baseball-bat standard after the NCAA decertified three of Marucci’s bat models following in-season compliance testing in 2012. 

NCAA Statement

The following is a statement from Donald Remy, NCAA Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer:

“The NCAA, with recommendations from the NCAA Baseball Research Panel, adopted the BBCOR Standard beginning with the 2011 baseball season.  The NCAA adopted the Standard with the goal of maintaining the integrity of the game and enhancing player safety.  From the beginning, the NCAA believed this lawsuit was meritless.   The NCAA is pleased that the Court recognized the obvious procompetitive benefits of the NCAA adopting commonsense rules to govern NCAA sports.” 

In March 2012, the NCAA notified Marucci that three of Marucci’s bat models – the Cat52 34”, Black 33”, and Black 34” – failed compliance testing under the NCAA’s BBCOR Standard.  The purpose of the BBCOR Standard is to ensure wood bat-like performance for any aluminum and composite baseball bat used in NCAA competition. Marucci appealed the decertification decision to the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee, which denied the appeal.  The next day, Marucci filed suit in federal court alleging the NCAA’s BBCOR Standard violated federal antitrust laws by unreasonably restraining trade. 

The Court’s opinion, granting the NCAA’s motion to dismiss, held that the BBCOR Standard – like most NCAA rules “related to eligibility or amateurism” and those defining the “condition of the contest” – is entitled to a “procompetitive presumption” under the antitrust laws pursuant to Supreme Court precedent.  The Court found that rules regulating aluminum bats are squarely within the presumption because of the need for the NCAA to adopt a single set of rules for NCAA baseball games.  Because it is undisputed that all bat manufacturers are subject to the BBCOR Standard, the Court found that Marucci’s complaint did not state an antitrust claim, and dismissed the complaint with prejudice.