The NCAA today filed its opposition to a proposed consolidation of antitrust lawsuits that challenge the Association’s football scholarship rules.
Former West Virginia University running back Shawne Alston wants to consolidate an antitrust case he filed in Oakland last month with an antitrust case filed last month in Trenton, N.J., by Clemson University defensive back Martin Jenkins and three other student-athletes. Mr. Alston had argued that the Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation should transfer the Jenkins action to Oakland because both cases relate to whether the NCAA football scholarship rules violate federal antitrust laws.
The NCAA opposes the transfer motion because the two actions differ significantly with respect to the scope of the claims and the nature of the relief sought by them.
Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief legal officer, stated “Mr. Alston challenges only the NCAA bylaw limiting athletic scholarships to grants-in-aid, and seeks damages for the difference between the grants-in-aid and the actual cost of attendance for college football players in the ACC, Big-12, Big-10, Pac-12 and SEC. By contrast, Mr. Jenkins challenges the NCAA rules that prohibit member institutions from paying salaries to student- athletes, and seeks primarily an injunction striking down that prohibition with respect to all Division I FBS football and Division I men’s basketball players.”
Jeffrey A. Mishkin of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, the NCAA’s chief outside lawyer on the Jenkins case, stated that “Mr. Jenkins’ lawsuit makes a sweeping attack on the continued importance and vitality of the principle of amateurism in college athletics. Courts have upheld that principle against antitrust attack for more than 30 years.”
In its opposition papers, the NCAA wrote that if the judicial panel were persuaded to centralize the two lawsuits, the combined action should be litigated in Indianapolis, where the NCAA national office is located.
The ACC, Big-12, Big-10, Pac-12 and SEC are also defendants in both lawsuits.