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NCAA antitrust settlement moves along

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From D1.ticker:

ESPN’s Dan Murphy and Pete Thamel report the “tentative terms” of a settlement in the House case include the “NCAA paying more than $2.7B in past damages as well as setting up a system for its most powerful conferences to share a portion of their revenue with athletes moving forward. One major obstacle to reaching a settlement has been finding a way for the NCAA and its schools to protect themselves from future lawsuits, including potential claims they would be colluding to cap player compensation without using a collective bargaining agreement.” Steve Berman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, tells ESPN he and his team have proposed a solution that would extend the class-action settlement on an annual basis. In this scenario, athletes would receive a notice each year providing them with the opportunity to object to the terms of the revenue-share agreement. Berman explains those athletes would then have the chance to attend a hearing and persuade the judge that the revenue-share arrangement was unfair in order to push for a change. "Each year we would have a hearing where any new athlete who wasn't previously bound [by the settlement] can come and object. They would have to come and say, 'I don't think this is fair.' That would be a hard burden to prove." Murphy and Thamel also report the belief that the power conferences have the majority votes to settle. “The Big Ten is generally on board with settling. The SEC has some detractors of settling but is trending to a majority. The Big 12 is expected to follow along. There's some dissension in the ACC, which has amplified why Florida State and Clemson are suing to leave the league, but sources say it's unlikely the ACC will end up voting against it.” Lots more.


Yahoo’s Ross Dellenger reports a settlement in the House case “is expected to feature nearly $2.9B in back damages for former players; a future revenue sharing model with athletes starting at as much as $22M annually per school; and an overhaul of the NCAA scholarship and roster structure. While plaintiffs attorneys Steve Berman and Jeffrey Kessler mostly declined to discuss specifics of the case, Berman tells Dellenger: “As we had [settlement] discussions, they were playing both sides. [NCAA President] Charlie Baker would run to Capitol Hill to say, ‘Let’s pass a bill!’ for complete immunity. Every time Charlie would go talk to someone on the Hill, I’d go talk to someone on the Hill. I was trying to explain why they [NCAA] are not entitled to immunity.” Dellenger notes that “industry leaders describe the next two weeks as, perhaps, the most consequential in college athletics history, laying out a timeline for potential ratification of a deal as soon as the week of May 20.” Kessler: “This is very simple. What’s worse for them? A deal that is negotiated together that everyone, their commissioners and president of the NCAA, thinks will be a meaningful system? Or would they like to lose in court?” If the two sides agree on a settlement, Dellenger notes it could still take several months to conclude the process: “(1) Judge Claudia Wilken…must approve the settlement terms, which ‘should easily be satisfied,’ said Berman; (2) Athletes who are part of the class receive a notice about the terms with a choice to object to any terms or completely opt out of the settlement; and (3) a final approval hearing, or hearings, is scheduled in court.” Kessler says the settlement would not be completed by the start of the academic year. In regards to the settlement’s Title IX implications, Berman says: “It doesn’t impact us. If we have a settlement, we’ll negotiate a system in which athletes will be compensated. The degree in which Title IX applies will be determined [by the courts].”

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