Antitrust Lawsuit Against NCAA Granted Class Action Status

Photo of Kyle Scandore
Kyle J. Scandore
Associate, Corporate Department
Published: McLane Middleton
September 29, 2023

A federal district court judge granted class-action status to the plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and major college conferences. In House v. NCAA, the plaintiffs, including former college athletes Grant House, Sedona Prince, and Tymir Oliver, are pursuing an antitrust action seeking compensation in the form of backpay. The Plaintiffs argue that they were deprived of the commercial use of their name, image, and likeness due to NCAA amateurism regulations before July 1, 2021.

The plaintiffs claim the NCAA and its member institutions restrained the market for collegiate student-athletes’ use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL) while simultaneously profiting from the use of collegiate student-athletes’ NIL through media rights and sponsorship deals that generated billions of dollars. The plaintiffs in this class action lawsuit also challenge the NCAA’s current NIL regulations, even as the NCAA has removed many restrictions on student-athlete compensations since July 2021. The complaint argues the NCAA has not suspended enforcement of certain aspects of its NIL restraints, including prohibiting NCAA member institutions and athletic conferences from compensating student-athletes for using their NIL and restricting NIL compensation from being tied to athletic performance or enrollment at a specific school. The plaintiffs assert that all of these NCAA NIL restraints are unreasonable and unjustified.

The NCAA maintains its stance that NIL payments to athletes should not be used as a recruiting inducement or pay-for-play, and announced that while it expected the judge’s ruling to grant class action status to the lawsuit, the NCAA affirmed its commitment to defending its rules in court.

The evolving landscape of NIL regulations has created a sense of chaos and prompted not only the NCAA, but also conferences and schools to lobby Congress for legislative intervention to establish a more consistent framework for NIL activities in collegiate athletics. The ongoing legal battle and the potential outcomes of this lawsuit will play a significant role in shaping the future of NIL compensation and the NCAA’s regulatory authority over NIL.