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NCAA Faces Another Student-Athlete Lawsuit

The plaintiffs, a pair of former Division I athletes, claim the NCAA and Power 5 prevented them from receiving educational benefits that would have been available in a competitive market.

The NCAA is facing another lawsuit from former student-athletes. This one is connected to the Alston case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the NCAA could not block schools from offering student-athletes financial benefits tied to education. This new class-action antitrust lawsuit seeks millions in damages for current and former Division I athletes dating back to 2018.

Former Oklahoma State running back and current Carolina Panther Chuba Hubbard and former Auburn track athlete Keira McCarrell are the two lead plaintiffs in the complaint that also lists the Power 5 conferences as defendants. These student-athletes “did not receive the academic achievement awards that they would have received in a competitive market,” the complaint alleges. They are seeking triple damages from the NCAA.

Lead attorneys Steve Berman and Jeffrey Kessler also worked the 2019 Alston case, which opened the door for NIL. But that, per Kessler, “did not rectify the harm suffered by thousands of Division I athletes who were unlawfully prevented from receiving education-related compensation before the injunction was issued.”

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The NCAA generates billions in revenue per year, primarily from college basketball media rights, and Hubbard et al v. National Collegiate Athletic Association et al, alleges that the players actually competing in sports should get a piece of the pie. The NCAA’s sacred concept of amateurism shielded schools from paying players for many decades, and a separate lawsuit also filed against the NCAA by Berman and Kessler seeks damages for student-athletes who were unlawfully denied NIL money because of the rules protecting amateurism, dating back to 2016.

The Northern District of California, where the suit was filed on Tuesday, ruled against the NCAA in two previous instances. That includes a 2014 antitrust ruling that challenged the NCAA’s ability to use college athletes’ NIL for commercial purposes.

Shortly after the Supreme Court upheld the Alston ruling in 2021, the NIL era began in college sports. Now, former student-athletes like Hubbard seek the payment they claim the NCAA wrongfully denied them — a share in revenue generated from their athletic abilities.

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.