The NCAA-Killing Lawsuit Might Finally Be Here

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Sports labor attorney Jeffrey Kessler has filed suit against the NCAA and five power conferences, alleging that capping player compensation at the cost of a scholarship is an antitrust violation. Unlike previous suits, this one does not seek damages. It wants to tear down the NCAA. "We're looking to change the system," Kessler said. "That's the main goal."

The suit names as defendants the NCAA, the ACC, the Big 12, the Big Ten, The Pac-12, and the SEC. The plaintiffs are Rutgers forward J.J. Moore, Clemson DB Martin Jenkins, UTEP TE Kevin Perry, and Cal tight end William Tyndall, though as a class action claim, it hopes to represent all FBS football players and D-I basketball players.

The introduction to the suit, which can be seen in its entirety below, sums the argument up well:

The Defendants in this action...earn billions of dollars in revenues each year through the hard work, sweat, and sometimes broken bodies of top-tier college football and men's basketball athletes who perform services for Defendants' member institutions in the big business of college sports. However, instead of allowing their member institutions to compete for the services of those players while operating their businesses, Defendants have entered into what amounts to cartel agreements with the avowed purpose and effect of placing a ceiling on the compensation that may be paid to these athletes for their services. Those restrictions are pernicious, a blatant violation of the antitrust laws, have no legitimate pro-competitive justification, and should now be struck down and enjoined.


Kessler is the biggest hitter yet in the war against amateurism. He's partially responsible for bringing free agency to the NFL, and has served as outside counsel for both MLB and NBA players in labor battles against their respective leagues. He's joined in this suit by Tim Nevius, once the NCAA's associate director of enforcement.

Here, the full suit. And below that, Jonathan Mahler's column from earlier this month, envisioning a totally hypothetical NCAA-busting lawsuit—one that looks an awful lot like this one.