Devin Pugh, a former Weber State football player, filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court Thursday that challenges NCAA’s transfer rules, claiming that limits on student athlete transfers violate antitrust laws.
The NCAA currently requires Division I football players to sit out of competition for a year if they transfer to another school.
According to CBS Sports, Pugh claims that when his Weber State coach left, the new coach decided not to renew his scholarship. Pugh received scholarship offers from three schools, but those offers were contingent on his ability to play for two more years. Those offers were rescinded due to the one-year sit out rule, and Pugh’s hardship waiver application was denied.
As a result, Pugh transferred to a Division II school, where his scholarship was substantially less than what he’d been receiving at Weber State.
“The NCAA’s limitation on the mobility of college athletes is patently unlawful,” the suit says. “For a striking contrast, one can simply examine the unfettered mobility of the players’ coaches.”
The suit also argues that transfer rules are anti-competition, since they restrict players from being able to make the best decision for themselves, based on criteria like financial considerations, playing time and academic considerations.
By requiring transfer players to miss a year, the NCAA and its schools have “contracted, combined and conspired to fix, depress or stabilize the amount, terms and conditions” of scholarship aid it offers to classes, the lawsuit says. “The NCAA cannot justify its conduct as necessary to preserve education or amateurism,” Pugh’s lawyers wrote.
Attorney Steve Berman, who has challenged the NCAA in court before, filed the lawsuit. He has cases against the NCAA that are currently in litigation, including one related to concussions and another related to cost of attendance.
It’s believed that this is the first time transfer rules have been challenged in court under antitrust laws.