College athletes won class action certification last week in a lawsuit accusing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) of failing to compensate student althetes for use of their name, image and likeness (NIL), exposing the NCAA to damages of up to 4.5 billion.
Background of the Case
In the lawsuit, filed in 2020 by former collegiate athletes, the NCAA violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act, which prohibits agreements in the restraint of trade (antitrust laws), by not allowing the student althetes from profiting off their NIL rights. The complaint proposed three classes of Plaintiffs seeking retroactive compensation for being denied NIL opportunities from 2016–2021, when the NCAA changed their NIL rules. The plaintiffs argue that these rules have prevented athletes from earning 1.5 billion dollars in damages which the Court could triple based on the revenue and unfair enrichment of the NCAA and its member institutions.
In her decision, Judge Claudia Wilken of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that the plaintiffs had met the requirements for class certification. This means that the lawsuit can now proceed on behalf of a class of current and former NCAA athletes which covers mens football and basketball, women’s basketball; and other college athletes who currently or formerly competed in Division 1 teams between June 15, 2020 and the date of a judgement in the case. The class is estimated to include over 180,000 athletes.
Implications of the Ruling
The certification of this class action lawsuit is a major blow to the NCAA and could have a significant impact on the future of college sports. If the plaintiffs are successful, the NCAA could be forced to pay billions of dollars in damages and could be required to change its rules governing NIL rights.
The lawsuit is now set to proceed to the discovery phase, where the parties will exchange evidence and prepare for trial. The trial is currently scheduled to begin in January 2025.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
If you are a current or former NCAA athlete who has been affected by the NCAA’s NIL restrictions, you may have legal options. Contact one of our attorneys to see if we can help you understand your rights and options.
Contact Us Today
If you have any questions about the NCAA’s NIL restrictions or your legal rights, please contact our law firm today for an in person consultation. We will be happy to discuss your case and help you determine the best course of action.