Two current athletes join Kessler lawsuit vs. NCAA, conferences
Wisconsin men's basketball player Nigel Hayes and Middle Tennessee football player Anfornee Stewart join the lawsuit as named plaintiffs, replacing three former plaintiffs.
Lawyers in the Martin Jenkins lawsuit who seek a free market to pay college athletes on Thursday added two current college players as named plaintiffs to replace three former players.
The suit added Wisconsin men’s basketball player Nigel Hayes and Middle Tennessee football player Anfornee Stewart to join Jenkins, a Clemson football player, in the suit led by sports labor attorney Jeffrey Kessler. Gone as named plaintiffs are three athletes whose eligibility recently ended: Rutgers basketball player J.J. Moore, UTEP football player Kevin Perry and Cal football player Bill Tyndall. The changes were made in an amended complaint filed by the Jenkins plaintiffs so they have named plaintiffs with current eligibility.
Jenkins is a graduate student and a defensive back at Clemson. Hayes is a sophomore starting forward for Wisconsin’s basketball team, which reached the Final Four last season. Stewart is a redshirt sophomore starting linebacker for Middle Tennessee, whose conference is not being sued in the case. Lawyers for the Jenkins plaintiffs wrote in an amended complaint that Stewart was recruited by several major-conference schools.
The Jenkins plaintiffs are suing the NCAA and the five major conferences and seeking an injunction to allow a free market. The plaintiffs want to end NCAA rules that “prohibit, cap or otherwise limit remuneration and benefits” to football and men’s basketball players in those leagues. The suit also wants to prevent the NCAA and the five conferences from creating rules that prevent schools from “negotiating, offering, or providing remuneration” to the players “in compensation for their services as athletes.”
The class attempts to represent all Football Bowl Subdivision football players and Division I men's basketball players from the date of the complaint until the final judgment.
The Jenkins case is consolidated in California with the Shawne Alston cost-of-attendance suit. But the Jenkins case, which would return to New Jersey if it reaches trial, has been trying to work on a faster track since it’s not seeking class-action damages.
The Jenkins plaintiffs are scheduled to file their first motion for class certification on Nov. 6. The NCAA and the conferences don’t want the initial certification filing until Feb. 13, 2015, and seek to delay the cases because they say they need time for discovery, according to a case management filing on Thursday.
The Jenkins and Alston plaintiffs also disagree with the NCAA and conferences on who should be the mediator. The NCAA and conferences don’t want retired Judge Edward Infante as the mediator and wrote that they proposed an alternative nationally-recognized mediator.
“Plaintiffs declined to discuss any alternatives to Judge Infante, who conducted only one mediation session in the O’Bannon action that did not result in settlement,” the NCAA and conferences wrote. “Defendants believe that mediation will have the best chance of success if the parties agree on the mediator.”
In a statement released Friday, Wisconsin's athletic department acknowledged Hayes' decision to join the lawsuit.
"The department fully supports Nigel as a student, student-athlete and team member," Wisconsin's statement said. "In a free society, people can reasonably disagree about any issue, express their views and seek to vindicate them through the legal process."
Wisconsin said it is "committed to the collegiate experience with education as its centerpiece. It does not believe that the professionalization of intercollegiate athletics is the proper path to reform, or likely to benefit all student-athletes."
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