A federal judge on Friday allowed the NCAA and its five major conferences to delay their response to five-month-old antitrust lawsuits related to scholarships because of the recent Ed O'Bannon ruling.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken gave the NCAA, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and ACC an extra 15 days to respond to the Shawne Alston and Martin Jenkins complaints by Sept. 4. The NCAA and the five conferences had sought a delay of at least 30 days, and the Alston and Jenkins plaintiffs wanted no delay.
The deadline had been approaching on Aug. 20 for a response to the Alston and Jenkins cases, which allege the NCAA and many of its conferences illegally cap the value of scholarships. The cases are consolidated in pre-trial before Wilken, who ruled in O'Bannon last week the NCAA can cap the amount of new compensation FBS football and Division I men's basketball players receive while in school but it cannot be less than their cost of attending college.
The NCAA and the conferences said they needed more time to assess the O'Bannon ruling's impact on the allegations in Alston and Jenkins. Wilken is also the judge in the O'Bannon case.
The NCAA's current athletic scholarship value is less than the cost-of-attendance amount listed by schools when they add in incidental costs and travel expenses. The NCAA Division I board on Aug. 7 granted the Power 5 conferences autonomy to create some of their own new rules, and cost of attendance is the first agenda item for the conferences.
The damages in the Alston case could reach hundreds of millions of dollars if the plaintiffs win. The Jenkins case brought by attorney Jeffrey Kessler is the next major legal challenge to the NCAA because it seeks a free market for athletes beyond cost of attendance or the right to some licensing money, as the O'Bannon plaintiffs won in court last week pending appeal.
In a filing Friday before Wilken's order, Kessler wrote that he believes pretrial proceedings can be completed "relatively quickly" for his injunctive-relief class, allowing his case to be returned to New Jersey for a fall 2015 trial. "But only if this case moves forward in a timely and efficient manner," Kessler wrote.
Assuming a motion to dismiss is filed by the NCAA and the conferences, Wilken set a motion hearing date for Oct. 9 in Oakland. The hearing had been scheduled for Sept. 25.