This isn’t good, if you’re the NCAA.
A federal judge on Friday granted class-action status to a pair of lawsuits challenging the NCAA’s current limits on the compensation athletes can receive while playing college sports.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken’s action sets the stage for the advance of cases filed on behalf ofFootball Bowl Subdivision football players and Division I men’s and women’s basketball players against the NCAA and 11 major conferences.
… This case is being led, in part, by lawyers from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the same firm that is involved in an array of cases against the NCAA and represented former Arizona State and Nebraska football player Sam Keller in a suit before Wilken that also involved video game manufacturer Electronic Arts and eventually settled.
The other case is being pursued on behalf of plaintiffs led by former Clemson football player Martin Jenkins and two current Wisconsin athletes — basketball player Nigel Hayes and football player Alec James. It covers football and men’s basketball players in the power conferences, and it is being directed by Jeffrey Kessler, who gained renown for his representation of professional sports players’ unions and involvement in a case that set the stage for NFL free agency.
If the cases had not been certified as class actions, they would have been limited to the named plaintiffs only.
Neither is this.
Wilken wrote that the NCAA’s argument against class-certification depends “on the assumption that schools could not afford to spend more money compensating all student-athletes rather than cutting payments to some. That assumption … is not supported.”
She rejected what she described as the NCAA’s and the conferences’ prediction that an injunction “would increase the costs to schools of participating in FBS and Division I athletics and, in turn, schools would stop participating in FBS and Division I athletics or take steps to lower their costs, such as offering fewer” scholarships.
Wilken wrote that the NCAA and its experts for the case assume “that any increase in student-athlete compensation resulting from an injunction would force schools to offset such cost by disadvantaging some members of the proposed classes. The Court finds insufficient basis for such an assumption, because of schools’ past behavior and alternative available sources of funds.”
Hunh. She doesn’t find Mark Emmert and Jim Delany convincing. Imagine that.
Jeffrey Kessler is getting closer, NCAA. Time to get those Congressional lobbying plans in gear. Either that, or try to reach a settlement. Okay, on second thought, it’s the lobbyists.