The NCAA and 11 major athletic conferences have agreed to pay $208.7 million to settle the federal class-action lawsuit filed by former college athletes who believed the value of their scholarships was capped illegally.
The announcement came Friday night as a judge must still approve of the settlement. The proposed settlement also doesn’t close the antitrust case originally filed in 2014 by former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston. His case was later combined with other lawsuits against the NCAA and it covers Division I men’s basketball, women’s basketball and FBS football players who competed from 2009-10 through 2016-17 and didn’t receive a cost-of-attendance stipend.
The “Power 5” conferences (the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC) passed NCAA legislation in January 2015 that allowed for schools to increase the cost of an athletic scholarship to help include expenses beyond tuition such as room and board, books and fees. This settlement will help cover athletes who didn’t receive stipends as each member of the class is expected to receive approximately $6,000 as part of the settlement, according to the lead attorney for the case, Steve Berman.
“This is a historic settlement for student-athletes and there is more to come as the second part of the case seeks injunctive relief that will force the NCAA to pay student-athletes a fair share,” Berman said to the AP on Friday night.
The NCAA continues to push back on these lawsuits and settlements as they released a statement saying they, “will continue to vigorously oppose the remaining portion of the lawsuit seeking pay for play.” The NCAA also went on to say that they, “only settled this case because the terms are consistent with Division I financial aid rules.” The settlement also maintains cost of attendance as, “an appropriate dividing line between collegiate and professional sports,” according to the NCAA.
The second part of this case, which determines if athletes should be paid a fair share to compete in those aforementioned stipend sports, is still yet to be determined as both sides continue to battle that out in court.
The $208.7 million settlement will be fully funded by NCAA reserves, meaning that no conference or school will be required to contribute.
This settlement and class-action lawsuit are separate from the judge-approved $75 million class-action concussion lawsuit against the NCAA. There are also many other smaller lawsuits against the NCAA and Division I college programs for the mishandling of concussions.
This settlement also doesn’t touch anything from the famous Ed O’Bannon case that was resolved when the Supreme Court declined to hear the NCAA’s appeal for that ruling in March 2016.
When you look at how much the NCAA is continually paying in settlements for these cases, it means that things in college sports could be rapidly changing. The cost-of-attendance stipend is a nice addition for student-athletes to have at the moment but it’ll be fascinating to see how the second part of that lawsuit plays out.