The NCAA and five top conferences are a "cartel" that generates billions of dollars in revenue and illegally caps the pay of student athletes, a group of football and basketball players claim in a lawsuit that seeks to reshape college sports.
Four athletes filed an antitrust complaint Monday on the eve of the NCAA men's basketball tournament seeking to bar the association and five "power conferences" from enforcing rules that ban colleges from competing financially for players and limit payments to them to tuition and related fees.
The antitrust suit, if successful, may lead to bidding wars for top high-school talent. It joins a separate case, scheduled for trial in June, in which athletes seek to overturn an NCAA rule barring college players from profiting from their names, images and likenesses. Recent lawsuits over head injuries and scholarship caps also attack the NCAA.
"This is yet another danger to the current model of current athletics," said Gabe Feldman, director of the Sports Law program at Tulane University in New Orleans. "This becomes an instantly credible threat to the NCAA."
The players, including Clemson University football player Martin Jenkins and Rutgers University basketball player Johnathan Moore, sued the NCAA and the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Atlantic Coast and Big-12 conferences in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey. They seek unspecified money damages for themselves and to overturn NCAA rules that apply to top football and men's basketball programs at Division I schools including the universities of Alabama, Texas and Oregon and Duke University. The colleges weren't sued.
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn declined to immediately comment on the lawsuit.