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High court takes certified questions in NCAA case

November 4, 2010


The Indiana Supreme Court has accepted three certified questions proposed by a federal appeals court that arose in a case involving the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s ticket-distribution system for championship tournaments.

The justices unanimously agreed to take the questions in an Oct. 29 order posted online today. On Oct. 18, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals asked the Supreme Court to take the certified questions:

1.    Do the plaintiffs’ allegations about the NCAA’s method for allocating scarce tickets to championship tournaments describe a lottery that would be unlawful under Indiana law?
2.    If the plaintiffs’ allegations describe an unlawful lottery, would the NCAA’s method for allocating tickets fall within the Ind. Code Section 35-45-5-1(d) exception for “bona fide business transactions that are valid under the law of contracts”?
3.    If the plaintiffs’ allegations describe an unlawful lottery, do plaintiffs’ allegations show that their claims are subject to an in pari delecto defense as described in Lesher v. Baltimore Football Club, 496 N.E.2d 785, 789-790 (Ind. Ct. App. 1986), and Swain v. Bussell, 10 Ind. 438, 442 (1858)?

The questions arose in George v. NCAA, No. 09-3667, in which the federal appellate court vacated their earlier decision and stayed the appeal while awaiting consideration by the Supreme Court. Tom George and others sued the NCAA and Ticketmaster claiming their ticket-distribution scheme constituted a lottery in violation of Indiana law. The District Court dismissed the claims; in July, a split 7th Circuit reversed.

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