Antitrust Lawsuits Against the NCAA


Sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler has filed an antitrust suit in the New Jersey District Court against the NCAA and its five major conferences alleging a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Kessler discusses the lawsuit in this report.

Jeffrey Kessler

Jeffrey Kessler

One of the latest developments is that the antitrust lawsuit is being supported by the directors of the NFL and National Basketball Players associations. There are several cases proceeding simultaneously. Kessler says that the next step in the litigation will be a hearing on motions to dismiss. Kessler notes that his suit is separate from the others because it has some different objectives.

Kessler believes that this case is similar to his work in gaining free agency in the professional sports. “Players [in earlier years] had very, very few rights” and low compensation. Owners strongly opposed free agency, but the subsequent creation of free agency has “made the system fair [and] enhanced fan interest.” The NCAA, Kessler says, is making the same arguments that were made by professional team owners.

Kessler’s goal is to obtain fair treatment for college players. He suggests that some officials support change, but these people are not necessarily in control and may not be able to persuade others to change. Kessler says that an ideal situation would be to let competition decide how things should work, let the institutions decide how things should work.

Kessler believes describing the current system as a cartel is absolutely accurate.

Jeffrey L. Kessler is a partner in the firm’s New York office who serves as the head of the global antitrust/competition practice and co-chairs the sports law practice group. Additionally, Mr. Kessler serves on the firm's Executive Committee. Mr. Kessler is also one of the most prominent lawyers in the country regularly engaged in high-profile sports litigation. He has litigated some of the most famous sports-antitrust cases in history, including McNeil v. the NFL, the landmark antitrust jury trial which led to the establishment of free agency in the National Football League (NFL), and Brady v. NFL, which led to the end of the 2011 NFL lockout.   The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.