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Alston v. NCAA: The Reincarnation of White v. NCAA

In 2006, in White v. NCAA, a group of student-athletes filed suit against the NCAA on antitrust grounds seeking to recover damages for the difference between the full cost of attendance and the NCAA’s version of an athletic scholarship (i.e., tuition, fees, room and board, and books). The difference between full cost of attendance and full grant-in-aid as defined by the NCAA is generally $1,500.00-$6,000.00 depending on the locale of the institution. In 2008, the NCAA and the plaintiffs reached a settlement that allowed student-athletes in the class to have access to funds for educational purposes. Since the settlement, the NCAA has proposed legislation to increase full grant-in-aid to allow for a stipend to be provided to the student-athletes. Legislation to that effect has been defeated.

Recently, former West Virginia University student-athlete Shawne Alston filed suit in the Northern District of California against the NCAA, SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big Ten. Alston claims the NCAA and major conferences have conspired to contain costs thereby fixing the value of full grant-in-aid in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Alston indicated in his petition the NCAA membership has routinely defeated proposed legislation to increase full grant-in-aid merely for the purposes of containing costs, which Alston argues is not a viable procompetitive justification to alleged restraints on the market. Alston seeks to certify a class of similarly situated student-athletes who competed from February 2010 to the present. In addition to monetary damages (which are trebled under antitrust laws), Alston seeks to enjoin the NCAA from enforcing the NCAA bylaws that cap full grant-in-aid. Alston is represented by the law firm that represents Sam Keller in Keller v. NCAA and represented Joseph Agnew in Agnew v. NCAA.

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