Lawyers for the plaintiffs in two lawsuits challenging the NCAA’s current compensation limits for athletes on Friday night asked a federal judge to decide the case in their favor without a trial, saying that “new and undisputed evidence” — much of it developed through depositions of top NCAA and conference officials — make it impossible for the NCAA to show that the limits are justifiable under antitrust law.
Known as a request for summary judgment, the filing asks U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken to issue a permanent injunction that would apply to Division I men’s and women’s basketball players and to football players at Football Bowl Subdivision schools. The injunction would upend the NCAA’s relatively new rules that allow athletes to receive scholarships that can cover tuition, fees, room, board, books and incidental expenses up to their full cost of attending school.
The system envisioned by the plaintiffs, as outlined in the new filing: “individual conferences and/or schools would be free to make their own independent determinations about how to fairly compensate” the athletes. “If some conferences or schools wish to enact new rules limiting benefits on a justifiable basis, they could do so,” but the injunction would “ensure that (athletes) enjoy the benefits of competition among the individual conferences and schools that the antitrust laws require.”
To buttress their case, the plaintiffs cited from an array of depositions taken from some of college sports’ most prominent executives, including NCAA President Mark Emmert, NCAA executive vice president Oliver Luck, NCAA vice president Kevin Lennon and Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. The plaintiffs also attempted to turn a variety of NCAA rules back on the association, including the ones that allowed scholarships to be enhanced to cover the cost of attendance.
The NCAA’s and the conferences’ “price-fixing justification based on their ever-elusive concept of ‘amateurism’ is simply their version of a three-card Monte game in which the line defining amateurism never stays in the same place,” the plaintiffs wrote. The defendants “will not be able to carry their burden to prove that the challenged restraints are necessary to maintain consumer demand” in college sports.