NCAA hit with antitrust lawsuit over transfer, scholarship policies

Sporting News
A former Weber State cornerback wants the NCAA to change its transfer rules, alleging hypocrisy when coaches change jobs.
A former Weber State cornerback wants the NCAA to change its transfer rules, alleging hypocrisy when coaches change jobs.

Devin Pugh is not a household name, but the former Weber State cornerback could have a dramatic impact on the future of college football.

A law firm representing Pugh filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA this week challenging the governing body's transfer and scholarship rules.

The suit reads in part:

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“… the NCAA’s limitation on the mobility of college athletes is patently unlawful and challenges the NCAA’s rules that prevent Division I football players from transferring to other Division I schools without losing athletic eligibility for a year — as a result of the year-in-residence requirement, class members receive millions of dollars less in athletics-related financial assistance and other direct compensation than they would receive if class members were permitted to transfer without this limitation. The suit also tackles the NCAA’s continuing cap on the number of football scholarships a Division I football team may award as well as the NCAA’s former prohibition on multi-year scholarships.”

Pugh claims he was promised a four-year scholarship at Weber State. The scholarship was pulled when Wildcats coach Ron McBride retired in 2011. A year later, Pugh’s grant-in-aid was no longer promised by McBride’s successor, Jody Sears.

Attorneys for Pugh say their client was unable to secure a transfer waiver and could no longer stay in school. The Tulsa, Okla., native wound up at CSU Pueblo for a “substantially less” grant in aid.

Athletic scholarships typically have been renewable annually, though some schools and conferences have recently begun a push for four-year scholarships.

The lawsuit argues “… at least 34 Division I head football coaches now earn more than $3 million per year, even prior to the calculation of what can often be performance bonuses in excess of $1 million, and that at least 37 Division assistant coaches earn more than $600,000 per year, prior to the calculation of performance bonuses. Annual revenues for the NCAA’s 2007-2008 fiscal year were $614 million.”

According to attorney Steve Berman, "Devin’s story is just one example of the double-standard the NCAA has against student-athletes in the multibillion dollar industry of college sports, and we believe hardworking student-athletes like Devin shouldn’t be punished.”


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