Scholarship Antitrust Case Inching Along

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) — A major antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA took a small step toward trial Thursday, after a federal judge signed off on a revised case schedule and a discovery agreement.
     “I’ve looked at the way the sequencing is drawn out and it makes sense to me,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins during an afternoon hearing.
     The case stems from a dispute over whether the NCAA can limit “grants-in-aid” — the technical name for athletic scholarships — to tuition and fees, room and board and required classroom books.
     A group of former athletes say the NCAA violates antitrust laws by not allowing the scholarships to encompass what the athletes say is the true cost of attending school.
     In December, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken certified three different classes of athletic groups — a class of Division I football players, a class of Division I men’s basketball players and one of Division I women’s basketball players.
     Wilken is the same judge who ruled in favor of plaintiffs in the O’Bannon v. NCAA case, finding that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by prohibiting college athletes from earning a portion of the proceeds from video games and other products that use their likeness.
     On Thursday, the two sides were in Cousins’ court to agree on a schedule and to discuss an agreement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and the athletes about which financial documents will be disclosed during discovery.
     The court tentatively set a hearing on a motion to compel discovery for Aug. 11, but said it was encouraged that perhaps in light of the recent SEC agreement other conferences might bring about a resolution.
     Should such agreements be cemented, Cousins said he hoped the parties would revisit the case schedule, which currently calls for the hearing of dispositive motions in late summer 2017.

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