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Current Clemson DB part of new antitrust claim assailing NCAA model

Martin Jenkins Getty Images

Like never before in its history, the NCAA has come under attack on numerous fronts, legal and otherwise.  From Northwestern players fighting to unionize college football to a former West Virginia football player accusing The Association in a lawsuit of capping the value of an athletic scholarship below the actual cost of attendance to the ongoing O’Bannon case, the very foundation of the governing body of collegiate athletics is quickly crumbling.

The latest attack on the organization, which Deadspin calls “NCAA-killing,” comes from sports labor attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who Monday filed an antitrust claim against the NCAA in a New Jersey federal court.  Four basketball and football players are listed as plaintiffs in the claim, including current Clemson defensive back Martin Jenkins.  Also listed are former UTEP tight end Kevin Perry and ex-Cal tight end Bill Tyndall.

Also named as defendants in the claim are the five so-called power football conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

The antitrust claim alleges, ESPN.com writes, that the NCAA “has unlawfully capped player compensation at the value of an athletic scholarship.”

The claim, however, goes well beyond bridging the gap between the value of a scholarship and the actual cost of attendance.  Instead, it sets the stage for college football and basketball players to be paid by the universities for their sports services and talents.

“The main objective is to strike down permanently the restrictions that prevent athletes in Division I basketball and the top tier of college football from being fairly compensated for the billions of dollars in revenues that they help generate,” Kessler told the website. “In no other business — and college sports is big business — would it ever be suggested that the people who are providing the essential services work for free. Only in big-time college sports is that line drawn.”

The fact that Kessler is involved in this latest assault on the NCAA could be a game-changer.  Kessler was partly responsible for the creation of free agency in the NFL in the early nineties, and he hopes to see similar results when it comes to college athletics.

“We’re looking to change the system. That’s the main goal,” said the attorney. “We want the market for players to emerge.”

Unlike others, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit are not seeking class-action damages (they are seeking individual damages, however).  Rather, they are seeking an injunction that would end what the suit claims is “price-fixing” at the hands of the NCAA “cartel,” with the ultimate goal being that players could be paid by outside sources well above the cost of a scholarship or even the cost of attendance.

The NCAA has yet to respond publicly to this latest attack on its sports model.

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9 Responses to “Current Clemson DB part of new antitrust claim assailing NCAA model”
  1. Slim Charles says: Mar 17, 2014 5:48 PM

    Nice!!

  2. wolfman55h says: Mar 17, 2014 6:32 PM

    It’s going to be fun watching the NCAA get their ass handed to them in the courts. This is punishment for all the sanctions these pencil pushing holier than thou assholes levied against coaches at little schools who bought a kid a hamburger or money so a player could go to a parents funeral. In five years this montrosity of greed and hypocrisy will no longer exist. #karmaisabitch

  3. donovandancy says: Mar 17, 2014 6:53 PM

    yeah! Lets take down the entity that has housed and provided the sport we love! After that, lets go after the above poster’s parents!

  4. onlyoneleft says: Mar 17, 2014 8:39 PM

    Jenkins needs to rethink his situation. As of now, he is not earning his keep.

  5. floridacock says: Mar 17, 2014 9:44 PM

    Sounds like greedy agents trying to worm their ways into college ball. Jenkins won’t be playing NFL, so he best be concentrating on that education.
    Will they also share in the athletic programs losses? Most are not making money or breaking even. Also will teams be bidding on players services? Will a 5 star be worth more than a 2 star? Hmmmm

  6. sparky151 says: Mar 17, 2014 11:34 PM

    This suit operates on the same theory that the US Department of Justice used against a coalition of selective colleges. The coalition included the Ivy League, MIT, Amherst, Stanford, etc and coordinated financial aid offers to make the cost of college the same for a given student. The professed aim was to make a prospective student’s college decision based on his ability and interest rather than financial considerations. That pretty quickly got shot down as textbook price fixing.

    The NCAA is likely to lose this case since one of their bedrock principles is to prevent member institutions from competing for prospective student-athletes based on financial considerations.

  7. Professor Fate says: Mar 17, 2014 11:40 PM

    In 2008 the top five football revenue schools each brought in over $100 million. The 40th ranked school for revenue brought in over $50 million.

    http://espn.go.com/ncaa/revenue

    In 2011 the NCAA raked in $757 million. 96% of that goes back to member schools.

    http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/6756472/following-ncaa-money

    According to USA Today, salaries of new head football coaches at the bowl-eligible schools increased by 35 percent from 2011 to 2012. Average annual pay has ballooned to $1.64 million, an astonishing increase of more than 70 percent since 2006.

    Yet the actual product the NCAA sells, athletes, are expected to be satisfied with an increasingly overpriced tuition. For the 2011-2012 academic year, the average annual scholarship shortfall (out of pocket expenses) for each FBS “full scholarship” athlete was $3,285. Full-ride players are expected to go to school full time, practice, travel, and be available to play in games, as well as seek gainful employment to cover out of pocket expenses. Many turn to illegal activities to cover those shortfalls, which are often posted on sites like this (x number of days without an arrest).

    A Drexel study finds “If allowed to access the fair market like the NFL and NBA players, the average FBS football and basketball player would be worth approximately $137,357 and $289,031 during the 2011-12 school year, respectively (not counting individual commercial endorsement deals). From 2011-2015, FBS football and men’s basketball players will be forced to forfeit over $6.2 billion.”

    http://dukepoliticalreview.org/money-madness-why-and-how-ncaa-athletes-should-be-paid/

    CBS and TBS pay $10.6 BILLION a year for the basketball tournament alone.

    http://news.sportslogos.net/2012/03/23/the-ncaa-cash-cows-of-course-but-should-the-herd-share-in-the-profits/

    The top money-making FBS program in ’11-’12, Texas, made a profit of $104.5 million on revenue of $163.3 million.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-25-schools-that-make-the-most-money-in-college-football-2013-1?op=1

    According to a different source Texas had $163.3 million in revenue, but “expenses” ate up $138.3 million of that. I’m unsure of the efficacy of this list as I couldn’t find USC anywhere amongst the 228 schools listed.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/schools/finances/

    The simple fact that the NCAA won’t reveal much information about its financial operations makes one wonder how much profit there actually is regarding football and basketball. It might just very well require a lawsuit (or several) to get the league to open its books.

  8. patriottony says: Mar 18, 2014 7:39 AM

    Thats right BARELY educated minorities, who in most cases need tutoring to even get a NCAA scholarship, are now filing suit, because a free education, board, books and 4 yr degree is worth NOTHING.
    Given that so few make it to the NFL (250 yr give/take),,,what do they think they are going to accomplish? So for the sake of a few greedy minorities, they are going to destroy the deal for thousands of others?
    Not to mention that FOOTBALL feeds and supports alllllll of the other sports in college. Ever been to a field hockey game? How about womens lacrosse? Their funds are supplied in total from the Football program.

  9. lifelong says: Mar 18, 2014 5:55 PM

    @patriottony: Why is it the responsibility of football players to fund the scholarships of the field hockey or women’s lacrosse teams? Let them fund their own programs. Are you a communist? Because it’s basically communism to take from the the haves (football players who generate revenue) and give it to the have-nots (field hockey players who generate none).

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