GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (CN) – “Under the influence of one or more of the competitors” of an equipment maker, the NCAA changed its rules on lacrosse stick heads, rendering “the vast majority” of Warrior Sports’ stick heads obsolete, Warrior claims in a federal antitrust complaint. Warrior says the rules change will cost it $30 million.
Warrior says that before the NCAA jiggered the rules in September 2006, the specifications for lacrosse stick heads had been unchanged for 30 years. It claims that from September 2006 through February 2008, the NCAA changed the rules repeatedly, to “render obsolete the vast majority of the men’s lacrosse heads currently being manufactured, distributed and sold to the public.” It claims the NCAA did this “without conducting any tests or studies to support the changes, and there is no legitimate need for the new rules.”
And it says the NCAA “appears to have acted for improper and anticompetitive reasons under the influence of one or more of the competitors of plaintiff Warrior Sports Inc.”
The complaint continues: “The manufacturers and dealers of lacrosse heads face the prospect of crushing financial losses and irreparable harm to the goodwill of their businesses under the proposed rule. They will likely be required to scrap their inventories, accept returns of lacrosse heads, and incur the significant expenses associated with redesigning their entire lines of lacrosse heads to conform to the news specifications. The public will also suffer. Because the rules set by the defendant are followed by high school athletic association and youth leagues, nearly all male amateur lacrosse players will be forced to purchase new lacrosse heads. Moreover, the new rules will stifle future innovation in the design of lacrosse heads and, consequently, will severely limit the choices available to consumers.”
Joining Warrior Sports as plaintiff is Athlete’s Connection. They say the rules changes will cost them more than $30 million, which they demand, along with attorney’s fees, for antitrust violations and tortious interference. Or, they say, the court could order the NCAA to accept the sticks that were made in reliance on the NCAA’s promised.
Plaintiffs are represented by William Jansen with Warner Norcross & Judd.