A pair of current college athletes filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA and all of the Power 5 conferences Monday morning, presenting the latest challenge to the association's rules prohibiting athletes from making endorsement money while in school.
Oregon women's basketball player Sedona Prince and Arizona State swimmer Grant House are named as lead plaintiffs in the class action suit filed in northern California. The suit seeks an injunction to void the NCAA's current rules and damages "based on payments college athletes would have received if not for the NCAA's restraints," according to a statement from their attorneys.
"For all the hard work college athletes put in, for all the risks we take and injuries we sustain, and for all the money we generate, we should at least be able to share in the profits that can be made off of our own names, images and likenesses," Prince said in a news release. "If not us, who can rightfully claim that and profit from it?"
Prince is expected to be one of the top forwards in college basketball this coming season. The former five-star prospect sat out last season after transferring from Texas. Oregon coach Kelly Graves said he thinks Prince could be the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft in the future. House is a record-setting swimmer for the Sun Devils; he took a redshirt season this past year to prepare for the now-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Their complaint comes just months after the resolution of an appeal for a similar antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA filed in the same court. In that case -- Alston v. NCAA -- the judge ruled that the NCAA's rules violated antitrust law and ordered that schools should be allowed to cover any costs for athletes so long as they are related to education. These cases are the latest in a string of federal lawsuits that have chipped away at NCAA amateurism restrictions during the past decade.
A spokeswoman from the law firm representing Prince and House said this suit provides new arguments due to the NCAA's recently announced proposal to relax it's rules governing how athletes are allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness rights. The NCAA announced plans to allow for some types of endorsement deals in late April, but won't vote until January 2021 on whether to accept the proposed changes.
The proposed changes came amid pressure from state and federal lawmakers to open up more opportunities for college athletes to make money. Last week, Florida officially passed a law that will make it illegal for schools to follow the NCAA's current rules for name, image and likeness rights starting in July 2021.
"For too long, the NCAA's bylaws, constitution and rules have governed all aspects of college sports, and we think these outdated and unnecessary regulations are unlawfully keeping college athletes from compensation that is rightfully theirs," attorney Steve Berman said.
The Hagens Berman law firm has represented college athletes in several cases against the NCAA in the past, including one class action case related to scholarships that was settled for $208 million and another related to the EA Sports' video game that was settled for $60 million.