NCAA Responds to Former NIU Punters Attempt to Revive Antitrust Challenge

The NCAA has urged the Seventh Circuit to reject the appeal of former Northern Illinois University punter, Peter Deppe. As mentioned in our previous post, Deppe’s proposed class action suit, which revolves around the NCAA’s transfer rules and eligibility bylaws, was dismissed in March, 2017. In a Wednesday, June 14, 2017 brief, the NCAA voiced their opinion on Deppe’s appeal and his interpretation of a 2012 Seventh Circuit decision.

Deppe claims that the Seventh Circuit decision requires the NCAA to prove the transfer rules are “clearly necessary” and “therefore essential” to be presumed pro-competitive. In response, the NCAA referenced the ruling in Agnew v. NCAA. The NCAA interpretation of the ruling supposedly shows that the transfer rules are generally necessary and essential, which gives an automatic presumption of pro-competitiveness in most cases where the eligibility bylaws apply.

The NCAA says the rule is pro competition because it helps foster the balance of academics and athletics. Unlike professional sports, the NCAA believes student athletes being able to change schools and teams each year would erode the academic and athletic experience and would hurt the overall product of college football. The NCAA doesn’t believe Deppe provided any evidence how the transfer rule hurts competition for student athletes. There was no information in Deppe’s appeal that specified the amount of football student athletes who wish to transfer each year or numbers showing how the transfer athletes are offered less financial aid. The NCAA contends Deppe’s complaint simply revolves around his own personal situation.

Additionally, the NCAA argues that the bylaws don’t affect the amount of financial aid a student athlete can receive during the waiting period. Deppe did not explain how the rule negatively impacts commercial or business interests under the Sherman Act and there was not an established link between Deppe’s supposed economic injury and the transfer law according to the NCAA. The NCAA hopes that the Seventh Circuit will ultimately reject the appeal on these grounds.

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