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Why Former Student-Athletes Sue NCAA For $240 Million

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Once again, former students are suing the NCAA, seeking a hefty financial settlement. The latest lawsuit contends that the NCAA and the 11 major conferences owe recently graduated football and men’s and women’s basketball players damages because they did not receive full cost of attendance scholarships.

The plaintiffs are seeking $240 million — or the value of full cost of attendance scholarships — retroactive for five years.

There are different types of “full boat” scholarships

Starting in 2015, scholarship student-athletes at Power-5 conferences and some other schools are guaranteed a tuition-free education, as well as yearly stipends from $2,000 to $4,000 intended to cover cost-of-living expenses.

In addition to scholarships and stipends, the full cost of attendance legislation also included other benefits for student-athletes, like a concussion safety protocol, a discretionary student-athlete assistance fund to purchase insurance against injury, and a proposal to prevent schools from pulling scholarships from student-athletes for poor performance.

Student-athletes who played prior to this legislation were not guaranteed these benefits.

What kind of scholarships do you qualify for?

What’s stopping other former student-athletes from suing the NCAA?

This latest NCAA lawsuit controversy could prove to be very costly because under antitrust law the damages amount is tripled if a jury decides to award for the plaintiff. Worse than that $720 million payout, this lawsuit could set an awful precedent for the NCAA.

If these student-athletes are ruled to be deserving of retroactive benefits, what’s stopping less recent graduates from filing suit? By ruling for the plaintiffs, the court would basically declare that student-athletes are entitled to all future benefits.

The push to sue NCAA for compensation is gaining momentum

There is growing public pressure to pay student-athletes. Fans see all the dollar signs attached to the NCAA’s television deals and struggle to reconcile them with the fact that players earn nothing. Plus, the NCAA is seemingly more vulnerable after losing the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. (Remember taht? It forced the NCAA to compensate student-athletes for their names, images and likenesses.)

It seems like current and former student-athletes are emboldened and are now seeking a legal means to get a share of the NCAA’s immense profits.

The full cost of attendance legislation was initially intended to give student-athletes more benefits while simultaneously quieting the public sentiment to pay college players; however, this legislation might have opened Pandora’s box to more and more lawsuits.


Our recruiting experts to help you understand the types of college scholarships available to you. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Tom Johnson