Show Me the Money: NCAA Agrees to Pay Over $200 Million to Former Student Athletes
In a historic moment, the NCAA agreed to settle a portion of a massive class-action lawsuit earlier this month. The total amount — $208.7 million — was agreed to by the NCAA to remedy student athletes who competed prior to January 2015, when the five major college athletic conferences, including the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big 12, voted to increase the amount of an athletic scholarship to cover the cost of attending a university. The settlement requires the payment of roughly $6,700 dollars per athlete for those competing between the years of 2009 and 2017.
The lawsuit has its origins in 2014, when former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston brought the antitrust suit. Later on, the action was joined to include athletes from a range of sports, including male and female Division I basketball players. In a rare victory for former players against the college athletics behemoth, the NCAA commented that it only settled this part of the case because “the terms are consistent with Division I financial aid rules.” The settlement is still subject to approval by a federal judge, but is expected to become one of the largest settlement amounts in the organization’s history—second only the settlement involving Jason White. In that case, White, a former Stanford football player, sued the NCAA over cost-of-living expenses he incurred, along with many other athletes, and won nearly $230 million.
The payment for this settlement is coming out of the NCAA reserve account, and no school or conference will have to make any additional contribution to the agreement. The same arrangement was announced in the White case in 2008. Reaction on Twitter ranged widely from athletes and commentators alike. Baltimore Ravens Lineman John Urschel tweeted: “Yes, please!” while commentator Jay Bilas quipped, “amazing how much NCAA will pay so it won’t have to pay.” Litigation continues against the NCAA on numerous fronts with former players suing for recognition as employees and for use of athletic “likeness” as was the case involving former UCLA Basketball star Ed O’Bannon. As of now, however, the NCAA seems keen on paying settlements like this to keep operations steady.