• District Judge Recuses Herself from NCAA Antitrust Lawsuit
  • March 13, 2015
  • Law Firm: Goldberg Segalla LLP - Buffalo Office
  • On Thursday, January 29, a federal court judge for the Southern District of Indiana recused herself at the plaintiffs’ request from an NCAA antitrust case as she currently serves as a Butler University trustee.

    John Rock, a former Gardner-Webb football player who lost his scholarship, filed this lawsuit in 2012 attacking the NCAA’s scholarship cap and one-year scholarship policy. Rock seeks damages and a ruling from the court that requires all Division 1 universities to offer multiyear scholarships to stop the NCAA from “artificially reducing” the number of scholarships available to athletes. The US Justice Department’s antitrust division has been investigating the NCAA’s scholarship practices since 2010, prompting a removal of the multiyear scholarship ban in 2012.

    US District Judge Jane Magnus Stinson was hesitant at first when plaintiffs asked her to recuse herself from the proceedings, stating, “nothing that has been the subject matter of Mr. Rock’s claims as they have proceeded before me has ever been a topic at a Butler Trustee meeting.” Once the class definition was amended to include some Butler football players, Judge Magnus Stinson granted the plaintiffs’ motion and recused herself. The judge felt it to be in the best interest of the case to not have it tainted by her presence if there were questions to her motive. She felt that time would be better spent arguing the merits of the case than the propriety of her rulings. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt will be taking her place.

    Judge Magnus Stinson has been on the case since its filing in 2012. She previously ordered the case dismissed on an NCAA motion, but allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint in March of 2013. The amended complaint then survived a similar motion in August of that year as the judge determined that a relevant market is indeed “plausible on its face.”