Lawsuit Alleges NCAA and Conferences Cap Scholarships Illegally

March 7, 2014

A former West Virginia University football player is suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the five major conferences, alleging that an agreement to cap athletic scholarship  at levels too low violates antitrust laws. The Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conferences limit scholarships to amounts lower than the actual cost of attending college and "far below" what the free market would produce, says the lawsuit, first reported by AL.com. (One study found that full scholarships fall an average $3,500 short of the full cost of attendance.)

Shawne Alston, the plaintiff, is seeking an injunction to prohibit the NCAA and conferences from maintaining the current NCAA bylaw that limits financial aid to its currently defined grant-in-aid value (including tuition, books, fees, room and board, but not out-of-pocket expenses). The lawsuit, which seeks to represent former Football Bowl Subdivision football players who have played in the major conferences since February 2010, also seeks damages for the differences between scholarships awarded and the full cost of attendance.

A separate, high-profile lawsuit alleges that the NCAA violates antitrust law by benefiting financially off athletes' image, who are forbidden from profiting from their own likeness. NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said officials "just received a copy of the complaint and are evaluating it as it relates to similar cases filed by the very same plaintiffs' council."

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