Minneapolis law firm files suit against NCAA over athlete compensation

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A Minneapolis law firm has filed a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) claiming the organization has failed to pay student athletes fair compensation.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on Friday, it's seeking class action status.

According to Minnesota Lawyer, the lead plaintiff in the case is a former scholarship football player at the University of North Texas.

The suit says the NCAA makes billions of dollars off the work and talents of the athletes in violation of federal anti-trust laws through illegal price-fixing arrangements. The athletes work what amounts to a full-time job in exchange for scholarships that do not cover the full cost of attending school.

Brian Budmundson, one of the firm's attorneys, told the Star Tribune in an interview that he expects the suit to be consolidated in federal court in northern California. That's where similar cases against the NCAA have been filed.

He told the newspaper that the suit focuses on grants-in-aid, or the full athletic scholarships.

"There has been a conspiracy to fix the value of that at a certain level that does not reflect the competitive market," Gudmundson told the Star Tribune.

The lawsuit filed by Zimmerman and Reed comes on the heels of a ruling from U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, that issued an injunction preventing the NCAA "from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid."

The injunction was issued in the case of O'Bannon v. NCAA. USA Today reports Wilken's ruling could allow football and basketball players to receive more from the schools than they do now.

In a statement, the NCAA's chief legal officer, Donald Remy, said the organization will appeal the ruling.

"We remain confident that the NCAA has not violated the antitrust laws and intend to appeal. We will also be seeking clarity from the District Court on some details in the ruling.

It should be noted that the court supported several of the NCAA's positions, and we share a commitment to better support student-athletes."

Remy said the organization's Board of Directors passed a new governance model to allow schools to better support student-athletes, including covering the full cost of attendance, one of the central parts of the injunction.

That vote will allow the 65 schools in the "Power Five" conferences – including the Big Ten – to offer athletes a few thousand dollars more than current scholarships.

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