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Federal judge keeps alive Rock case vs. NCAA

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A federal judge has left the door open for a former Division I college football quarterback to pursue his claim that the NCAA constitutes an illegal college sports monopoly, allowing him to amend a complaint that had been dismissed.

Former Gardner-Webb University quarterback John Rock sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association in July 2012 and sought a class action challenging the Indianapolis-based governing body’s prohibition of multi-year college athletic scholarships.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the Southern District of Indiana dismissed the complaint in March, writing that the complaint “reads more like a press release than a legal filing.” Magnus-Stinson granted the NCAA’s motion to dismiss because Rock had failed to identify a relevant market in his antitrust claim.

On Friday, Magnus-Stinson issued an order allowing Rock to amend the complaint by fixing that defect in the original filing.

“(F)or the first time, the proposed complaint challenging the bylaws at issue limits the relevant market to Division I college football and further pleads two subdivisions of that market – the Football Bowl Subdivision (‘FBS’) and the Football Championship Subdivision (‘FCS’),” Magnus-Stinson wrote. “While the Court makes no pronouncement on the sufficiency of the relevant market Mr. Rock now proposes, given the Seventh Circuit’s observation that ‘[i]t is undeniable that a market of some sort is at play in (Agnew v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 683 F.3d 328, 2012) ... the Court cannot conclude that the proposed amendment is futile.

“Justice requires giving Mr. Rock a final chance to amend his complaint,” Magnus-Stinson wrote. “The NCAA must answer or otherwise respond to Mr. Rock’s amended complaint.”

Rock claims he was assured a four-year scholarship at Gardner-Webb as long as he remained eligible, but that he lost his athletic scholarship after a coaching change at the North Carolina school.

Seattle-based Hagens Berman LLP brought the lawsuit that was represented locally by Price Waicukauski & Riley LLC. Hagens Berman also filed the Agnew antitrust action, which was dismissed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2011.
 

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