New Suit Filed Against NCAA Over Athletic Scholarships

By Community | July 28, 2012

The Paynter Law Firm filed a lawsuit in federal court against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), health alleging that the NCAA’s restrictions on athletic scholarships violate federal antitrust laws.

Rock v. NCAA seeks damages for students who lost scholarships because of the NCAA’s recently abandoned ban on multiyear athletic scholarships, help and challenges the NCAA’s caps on total scholarships across all Division I, ed II and III sports. The complaint alleges that these rules constitute an unlawful conspiracy among the NCAA member institutions to reduce the amount of money spent on athletic scholarships.

The complaint alleges that while the NCAA claims its restrictions are necessary to preserve amateurism and competitive balance among teams, in reality, the rules are designed to divert money from scholarships so it can be used to line the pockets of NCAA officials and fill the coffers of NCAA member institutions. “Given the billions of dollars that student-athletes generate for the NCAA and its members,” said Stuart Paynter, an attorney whose firm is co-counsel on the case with the law firm of Hagens, Berman, Sobol & Shapiro, “it is outrageous that the NCAA and its members try to limit the number of available scholarships while simultaneously claiming to be concerned about student-athlete welfare and academic achievement.”

The lawsuit was brought by John Rock, a former starting quarterback at Gardner-Webb University. The suit alleges that Rock’s coach promised to maintain Rock’s spot on the team while Rock completed a mandatory academic internship. After the university replaced the coach, Rock returned from his internship only to learn that his locker had been cleaned out and his scholarship taken away. As a result, Rock had to pay out-of-pocket for tuition, room and board—costs he had not expected given his athletic scholarship.

Rock seeks to represent a nationwide class of student-athletes who, like him, had their athletic scholarships reduced or not renewed. “In a competitive market,” said attorney Paynter, “athletes like Rock would have been offered multiyear scholarships, meaning that even if they were cut from their teams, they could continue to pursue their educations.”