New Cases and Developments

NACUA's Legal Resources staff summarizes current higher education cases and developments and provides the full text of selected cases to members. New cases and developments are archived here for up to 12 months.  Cases provided by Fastcase, Inc.

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Student Athlete Issues; Athletics Compliance (NCAA & more); Athletics & Sports

Deppe v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletics Ass’n. (7th Cir., June 25, 2018)

Order and Opinion affirming the district court’s decision to dismiss the action.  Plaintiff, a red-shirted punter for the Southern Illinois University football team, transferred to the University of Iowa, but was deemed ineligible to compete for one year, pursuant to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) year-in-residence rule.  Plaintiff brought this action on behalf of himself and a class of student athletes, challenging the NCAA’s year-in-residence rule under the Sherman Antitrust Act.  In affirming dismissal, the 7th Circuit held that “the year-in-residence requirement is an eligibility rule clearly meant to preserve the amateur character of college athletics and is therefore presumptively procompetitive.”

Athletics Compliance (NCAA & more); Athletics & Sports

Board of Trustees of Arkansas Tech University v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (E.D. Ark. May 23, 2018)

Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, the Board of Trustees of Arkansas Tech University (ATU), alleged under section 1983, Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA), and contract law that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) breached its contract, breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and committed various civil rights violations by purportedly failing to adhere to certain bylaws in its Division II Manual when requiring ATU to vacate 205 wins from its basketball teams as a penalty for allowing its sports program to pay students’ on-campus housing security deposits. The court found that ATU failed to allege facts demonstrating that the NCAA breached the by-laws.  Having dismissed the contract claim, Plaintiff’s claim regarding an alleged breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing failed because there is no independent cause of action for such a claim under Arkansas law. Last, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s section 1983 and ACRA claims because the NCAA is not a state actor. 

Athletics Compliance (NCAA & more); Athletics & Sports

Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (U.S. Supreme Court May 14, 2018)

Slip Opinion reversing the judgment of the Third Circuit. Petitioners are New Jersey state officials who argue that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)—which makes it unlawful for government entities “to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact… a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based… on” competitive sporting events, among other provisions—violates the Tenth Amendment “anticommandeering” rule of the U.S. Constitution by preventing the State from modifying or repealing its laws against sports gambling. The U.S. Supreme Court held that PASPA’s provisions prohibiting state authorization and licensing of sports gambling schemes violates the Tenth Amendment since it “unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do.” In doing so, the Court rejected Respondent’s argument that the provision prohibiting state-sanctioned sports gambling schemes pre-empted state law, reasoning that PASPA clearly regulates the conduct of States and not private actors. The Court further found that the at-issue provisions were not severable from the remainder of the statute. In light of this decision, the NCAA announced that it will “adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with [the Court’s decision].”

Athletics Compliance (NCAA & more); Student Athlete Issues; Athletics & Sports

In re Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n Athletic Grant-In-Aid Cap Antitrust Litig. (N.D. Cal. March 28, 2018)

Order granting-in-part and denying-in-part cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs, consisting of current and former student-athletes, allege that Defendants, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and eleven participating conferences, conspired under the Sherman Act to suppress competition by agreeing to and enforcing NCAA bylaws that capped the amount of financial aid (grant-in-aid) awarded to students-athletes to the cost of attendance, with a few exceptions for additional benefits. To pursue a successful claim under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, Plaintiffs must show that there was a contract, that the agreement unreasonably restrained trade, and that the restraint (here, limitations on grant-in-aid for student-athletes) affected interstate commerce. Defendants must then provide evidence of the restraints’ procompetitive effects, and Plaintiffs must show that any legitimate objectives can be achieved in a substantially less restrictive manner. Determining that neither res judicata nor collateral estoppel barred the action despite the court’s ruling O’Bannon, the court turned to the merits. Preliminarily, the  court found that Plaintiffs met their initial burden of showing that Defendants’ restraint on grant-in-aid compensation produced significant anticompetitive effects and affected interstate commerce within the market for student-athletes’ athletic services. The court declined to hold that the two pre-competitive effects identified in by the Defendants in O’Bannon—namely, “integrating academics with athletics” and “preserving the popularity of the NCAA’s product by promoting its current understanding of amateurism” –applied to the case as a matter of law, and also concluded that Defendants failed to meet their burden as to the remaining procompetitive justifications.  Last, the court found that the two possible less restrictive alternatives proffered by Plaintiffs were not foreclosed by O’Bannon, and a genuine issue of material fact remained regarding whether Plaintiffs could meet their evidentiary burden under the last prong of their Sherman Act claim.

Athletics Compliance (NCAA & more); Athletics & Sports

NCAA Sexual Violence Policy Announcement (Aug. 10, 2017)

Announcement issued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) stating that its Board of Governors has adopted a new policy on sexual violence. The NCAA’s Commission to Combat Sexual Violence, convened a year ago by the Board to address sexual violence on campus, recommended the new policy to the Board. Among other things, the new policy requires coaches, administrators, and athletes to undergo sexual violence prevention training on an annual basis, and for campus leaders to attest annually that such trainings took place.