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New suit alleges NCAA monopoly, seeks class action

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A new federal lawsuit has been filed alleging that the Indianapolis-based NCAA constitutes an illegal college sports monopoly.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, John Rock v. the National Collegiate Athletic Association, 1:12-CV-1019, seeks class-action status and demand for a jury trial. John Rock is a former quarterback from Gardner-Webb University whose scholarship was not renewed after a change in coaches at the North Carolina school. Rock claims that he was assured a four-year scholarship as long as he remained eligible.

“The NCAA’s prohibition of multi-year scholarships and limits on the number and amount of athletic scholarships is an illegal restraint that limits the ability of student-athletes to market their services in a free and open market,” according to a statement from Seattle-based Hagens Berman LLP. The firm previously filed a similar unsuccessful claim against the NCAA.

“This suit arises out of a blatant price-fixing agreement and restraint between member institutions” of the NCAA, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit says the NCAA and the more than 1,000 colleges represented in its various divisions conspired to restrain trade by limiting the number of athletics scholarships and multiyear scholarships.

The NCAA did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment. The National Law Journal reported that the NCAA issued this statement:

“The plaintiff has not yet served us with this lawsuit, though we understand media have received it. To that end, we cannot comment specifically. In general terms, it is difficult to imagine why this law firm keeps filing the same tired theories and misleading new groups of student athletes. We will read the new complaint in that light when we see it.”

Attorney Steve Berman filed a prior suit, Agnew v. NCAA, 11-3066, that in June was dismissed by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The court affirmed the District Court’s finding that the plaintiffs’ case did not sufficiently identify a market required to prove a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

“The relevant market is the nationwide market for the labor of student athletes,” Rock’s suit claims. Despite the NCAA’s nonprofit status, the suit says, “full scholarships in exchange for athletic services are not noncommercial, since schools make millions of dollars as a result of these transactions.”

The suit cites Forbes magazine’s estimate that the value of University of Texas’ football program in 2011 was $129 million, with $71 million in profit. It also cites published reports of the cost of recruiting, such as $434,095 the University of Kentucky spent in 2010 to court basketball prospects.

The suit also takes swipes at the NCAA’s “plush” headquarters and “bloated” executive salaries, including NCAA President Mark Emmert’s reported $1.6 million annual pay.    

William Riley and Joseph Williams of the Indianapolis firm Price Waicukauski & Riley LLC are listed as local plaintiff’s counsel in the complaint. An attorney at the firm on Friday referred inquiries to Hagens Berman.

Rock, the suit said, wasn’t formally told that he would lose his scholarship until July 2011, when it was too late for him to attempt to transfer to another school that could provide a football scholarship. Rock paid his way through his final year at Gardner-Webb and graduated this year with a degree in political science, according to the suit.


 

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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