John Rock v. National Collegiate Athletic Association

The Situation

In 2012, former Gardner-Webb University quarterback John Rock filed suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) challenging the NCAA’s cap on the number of athletic aid grants given every year and the, now former, “one-year” rule regarding the duration of athletic aid grants. The suit alleged that the NCAA’s actions constituted a concerted effort to reduce competition by artificially decreasing the supply of scholarships and thus reducing opportunities for student-athletes. This antitrust action was brought individually and on behalf of a proposed class of similarly situated student-athletes. While the initial case was dismissed in 2013, an amended complaint was later filed, allowing the suit to move forward and reopening discovery to allow the NCAA to gather more information about new class definitions.

NERA's Role

NERA Senior Vice Presidents Dr. Lauren Stiroh and Dr. Kent Van Liere were retained by the NCAA to evaluate certain economic issues related to the proposed class. Dr. Van Liere submitted a report summarizing a survey that investigated current and recent practices with respect to multi-year scholarships and grants awarded by Football Championship Subdivision schools as well as by schools in the higher-profile Football Bowl Subdivision. Dr. Stiroh’s report focused on class certification issues, including ascertainability and predominance, and investigated the potential for competitive impact of the NCAA rules at issue.

The Result

In March 2016, US District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt denied the bid for class certification citing results from both Dr. Van Liere’s survey and from Dr. Stiroh’s analysis.