Is the NCAA starting to wise up?

There are encouraging signs that the parties to the cost of attendance lawsuit filed by Steve Berman may be on the verge of settling.

Lawyers for the NCAA, FBS conferences and plaintiffs involved in a cost of attendance lawsuit filed a motion Monday to “indefinitely” delay their case, strongly suggesting they’re close to reaching a damages settlement.

Settling the case could pay former and current NCAA athletes for cost of attendance stipends the NCAA previously didn’t allow them to receive. The lawsuit, filed in 2014 by former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston and later consolidated with other cases, claimed the NCAA and the conferences violated antitrust law by capping the value of an athletic scholarship at less than the actual cost of attending college.

In a joint motion Monday, the NCAA, conferences and plaintiffs wrote, “The parties agree that it is in the interests of justice and efficient management of the litigation to continue indefinitely the remaining dates related to the proceedings on Plaintiffs’ motion for certification of damages classes.”

That would be nice.  But it’s only one case and the big mother is still out there swimming around.

In a separate part of this case and a related lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken already granted class-action status to groups of athletes challenging the NCAA’s new cost-of-attendance limits. That case, which is jointly led by Berman and prominent sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler, is commonly referred to as the Kessler case. One of the lead plaintiffs is current Wisconsin basketball star Nigel Hayes. The Kessler case seeks an injunction that would eliminate the NCAA’s new limits.

Kessler, who said he is unaware if the damages case has been settled, said his case would not be impacted by such a settlement. Additional depositions are trying to be scheduled in January for the injunctive case, and discovery will likely end by late January or early February, Kessler said.

“We’re going full forward with our discovery and moving forward with injunctive relief,” Kessler said.

Of course, that’s a much tougher pill for the NCAA and the schools to swallow.  But I suspect discovery will be as embarrassing for them as it’s been before.  Glad I’m not in Stacey Osburn’s shoes.

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