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Judge dismisses challenge to NCAA bylaws

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Two former NCAA athletes whose scholarships were revoked following injuries have lost their suit that argued without certain NCAA Division I bylaws, they would have received multi-year athletic scholarships that would have covered the cost of their bachelor’s degrees.

Joseph Agnew and Patrick Courtney originally filed their suit, Joseph Agnew, et al. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, No. 1:11-CV-293, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, but the suit was moved to the Southern District of Indiana at the request of the NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis. After the suit was removed, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint challenging two bylaws – the one-year scholarship limit, which prohibits NCAA member institutions from offering multi-year athletic-based discounts to student-athletes; and the cap on the number of athletic-based discounts a school can offer per sport each year.

The plaintiffs claim without these two bylaws, they would have been able to get multi-year athletic scholarships that would have covered the cost of their degrees.

The NCAA’s motion to dismiss argued that the two didn’t allege a relevant product market, geographic market, or anti-competitive effect on a relevant market to survive the motion to dismiss. The organization also claimed the plaintiffs lacked antitrust standing to challenge the bylaws.

Judge Jane Mangus-Stinson, bound by Banks v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 977 F.2d 1081, 1087-88 (7th Cir. 1992), examined the suit under the “Rule of Reason” analysis. She declined to apply the “quick look” version of the rule as the plaintiffs argued, and found that the plaintiffs failed to plead a relevant product market for the bachelor’s degrees as a matter of law.

“The Court agrees with the NCAA that the ‘market’ for bachelor’s degrees is implausible as a matter of law because people cannot simply purchase bachelor’s degrees at Division I colleges and universities,” wrote Judge Magnus-Stinson, noting that student-athletes must still fulfill certain academic requirements to get the degree.

She dismissed the suit with prejudice Sept. 1, finding that the plaintiffs have already had two opportunities to plead their claims against the NCAA and did not cure deficiencies in their pleadings. They also didn’t give any indication that they could fully amend their complaint to cure the defects Judge Magnus-Stinson found in the amended complaint, if they were given that opportunity.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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