NCAA Class Action Battling Over Discovery

The NCAA is clashing further with the class members of the “grant-in-aid” class action over the production of documents during discovery. The NCAA student athlete scholarship class action lawsuits were consolidated to the California federal court in a multidistrict litigation. According to the complaint, the NCAA conferences (NCAA, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and ACC) “colluded” to offer scholarship to student athletes which are insufficient to pay the full costs of attending college. The student athletes claim this violates federal antitrust laws.

In March, the student-athlete class members requested a judge to intervene and compel the NCAA conferences to release key documents concerning media deals and profits the conferences receive. In particular, the Plaintiffs are seeking financial documents and contracts related to media and sponsorship.

The NCAA is arguing against the disclosure of these documents — voicing that disclosure is irrelevant to the case and the contracts are confidential. According to the Big Ten, “the information sought by these plaintiffs is neither relevant to the parties’ claims or defenses nor proportional to the needs of the case. Among other things, every purported justification put forth by plaintiffs for the requested discovery can be full addressed by less competitively sensitive documents.” Broadcasters and media outlets have intervened on the side of the NCAA. It would prefer to block the disclosure of their “highly confidential and commercially sensitive” media contracts.

The NCAA itself has spent nearly $5.8 million to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in cases related to “grant-in-aid” and the limits of what an athlete may receive. The case is In re: National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletic Grant-in-Aid Antirturst Litigation, No. 4:14-md-02541 in the Northern District of California.

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