Author Archives: Saleel V. Sabnis

To Unionize, or Not to Unionize? Northwestern Football Players Cast Historic Vote Following Controversial NLRB Ruling

On April 25, Northwestern University’s scholarship football players voted on whether to form the first union for college athletes. This came on the heels of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that the university’s scholarship football players were employees, and that they (as workers) had the right to form a union and were entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  The NLRB agreed with the players on almost every point made at last month’s hearing, including acknowledging that athletes spend well in excess of the weekly…

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Stanford Runner Becomes First Active Division-1 Athlete to Sue NCAA Over Concussions . . . Then Backs Out Of Suit!

Jessica Tonn, a senior cross-country and track and field runner at Stanford University, became the first active D-I athlete to sue the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) over concussions when she filed a lawsuit against the NCAA in federal court on March 5.  In an abrupt twist, her involvement in that litigation lasted two days when she decided that she no longer wished to be a plaintiff in the class action. Tonn’s involvement as an active student would have certainly made history, especially given that…

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Minor League Baseball Players Cry Foul – File Lawsuit Seeking Class Action Over Low Wages

A lawsuit filed in federal court seeks to overhaul minor league baseball’s pay scale with three former players arguing low pay, mandatory overtime and lack of collective bargaining rights all violate state and federal wage laws. Minor League Baseball is not a party to the lawsuit. Instead, suit was filed in federal California Northern District Court by former players Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto, and Oliver Odle against Major League Baseball, the Office of the Commissioner, Commissioner Bud Selig and their former teams the Miami Marlins,…

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The NCAA Faces Another Concussion Lawsuit

The number of class-action lawsuits pertaining to concussions filed against the NCAA is now at five. Attorneys for former Kansas fullback Christopher Powell filed the most recent suit in U.S. District Court in Western Missouri on November 18 alleging that the NCAA failed in its duty to protect its athletes from the concussion/head trauma hazards of football and are seeking damages for the chronic physical ailments Powell is suffering almost two decades after he finished his collegiate career. The lawsuit claims that Powell, who played…

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City of San Jose Loses Heart of Lawsuit Against Major League Baseball

A San Jose federal judge recently dismissed part of the City of San Jose’s lawsuit against Major League Baseball (MLB) over the league’s lack of action on a proposed move by the Oakland Athletics. The judge granted MLB’s motion to dismiss in part but also denied it in part. Most significantly, Judge Ronald M. Whyte held that the league’s antitrust exemption ultimately precluded San Jose’s claims against MLB under the Sherman Act. The Athletics’ owner had been pushing to move the team out…

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NCAA to Gradually Restore Penn State’s Football Scholarships

The NCAA announced this week that it will reduce the unprecedented sanctions against Penn State’s football program by gradually restoring scholarships starting next season. Modifications to other sanctions, such as reducing the four-year postseason ban, may be on the horizon but were not announced. We all remember when the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky were splashed on the front pages of newspapers, and when the case involving the notorious former Penn State assistant coach was the focus of every news channel for months. After Sandusky…

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NCAA, University Sued Following Football Player Death

The parents of a Frostburg State University football player, who allegedly died after repeated head injuries suffered on the field, have accused coaches at the Maryland school of organizing high-risk drills that caused players to suffer repeated blows to the head. In the wrongful death lawsuit, Derek Sheely is alleged to have been allowed to return to the playing field despite prior bleeding from his forehead during several consecutive practice sessions in August 2011. Sheely was allegedly never checked for a concussion. The lawsuit alleges…

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NCAA Hits Back, Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit filed by Paterno Family Stemming From Sandusky Scandal

The NCAA wants a judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the family and supporters of late football coach Joe Paterno. Alleging that the claims are “baseless,” the NCAA filed its response to the Paterno family’s civil lawsuit last week on the day marking the one year anniversary since the NCAA sanctioned PennState for the Jerry Sandusky scandal with unprecedented penalties that included a $60 million fine. This is just the latest chapter from the embarrassing scandal which has tarnished the university’s brand and hindered…

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Michigan Follows National Trend, Passes New Sports Concussion Law

Michigan has become the 39th state to pass a sports concussion law which went into effect on June 30, 2013. The new Michigan law applies to school athletic committees, which include organized practices or competitions and also physical education classes that are part of any academic curriculum. Pursuant to the new law, before a student athlete may participate in athletic activities sponsored or operated by the school, the school must first insure that coaches, employees and volunteers and other adults who are involved in the…

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Latest Mitchell Quarterly Report Continues Praise of Penn State’s Progress Post-Sandusky Scandal

Penn State is apparently continuing to make steady progress in moving past the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Last week, former Senator George Mitchell, the third-party independent athletics integrity monitor, issued a third quarterly report (which can be found at by clicking here.) stating that University officials have given his team nothing but “full cooperation” as the institution works to implement various reforms after sanctions were imposed on Penn State stemming from the Sandusky scandal. Like Mitchell’s two prior reports, his third quarterly…

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