Cases against the NCAA and its Conferences over Athletic Scholarship Rules Get Consolidated
On June 4, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to consolidate two lawsuits over athletic scholarship rules in the Northern District of California where similar litigation is pending.
Currently presiding over the Ed O’Bannon case on misappropriation of likeness, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken will hear the two cases over the cap imposed on athletic scholarships—one brought by Shawne Alston and the other by Marvin Jenkins.
Alston filed a suit against the NCAA, SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 in March for setting a cap on athletic scholarships below the cost of attendance. Meanwhile, represented by Jeffrey Kessler, Jenkins brought a similar suit against the NCAA and the 5 major conferences over the cap on the value of scholarships.
Alston’s counsel argued for consolidating the two cases while Kessler wanted to keep them separately. If they do get consolidated, however, he wanted them in New Jersey.
Noting the cases both take issues with the NCAA’s bylaws on athletic scholarship money, the five-member panel determined that the “numerous and complex common questions” of the litigation outweigh the distinctions in the cases. The panel saw that “the factual issues and discovery will overlap, particularly as to the definition of the revenant market(s) and the affirmative defenses.” On its assignment of the cases to Judge Wilken, the panel commented that due to the ongoing cases involving the NCAA, Judge Wilken has “substantial familiarity with the factual and procedural issues that may arise in this litigation” and thus “will steer this litigation on an efficient and prudent course.”