May 25, 2024

NCAA president: ‘A lot of work to be done’ on potential settlement of multibillion-dollar antitrust lawsuit


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Amelia Island, Fla. — NCAA president Charlie Baker said there was “still a lot of work to be done” on a potential multibillion-dollar settlement of an antitrust lawsuit that could have a major impact on the future of college athletics.

Amid multiple reports Monday that the NCAA and Power Four conferences were working to settle the NCAA v. House lawsuit that could cost nearly $2.9 billion and would likely come with a revenue-share model, Baker addressed a collection of Atlantic Coast Conference coaches and administrators at the conference’s annual spring meetings. Baker said afterward that settling the lawsuit could soothe a number of issues and allow for a different conversation on Capitol Hill as college administrators continue to seek an antitrust exemption.

“The most important part about the settlement — and let’s face it there’s still a lot of work to be done there — the most important part about it is to create some clarity and some sort of visibility on a whole bunch of issues that have been roiling everybody for awhile,” Baker said. “The other thing is it creates predictability and stability for schools. It also creates tremendous opportunities for student-athletes especially at the schools that are most heavily resourced.”

It creates a framework that makes it possible to have a different kind of conversation with Congress. In many ways, I’m hopeful.”

ESPN reported earlier Monday that leagues were planning to vote on a proposed deal by May 23 while Yahoo! Sports reported that a deadline had been placed on the defendants to adopt a potential settlement by the end of May. CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd confirmed May 23 as a deadline growing in importance. The settlement talks are expected to be a hot topic at conference meetings this month – first with the ACC this week and then the Big Ten next week in Los Angeles and the SEC the last week of May in Destin. Each conference would need to approve the proposed settlement by a majority vote.

The NCAA has agreed to pay the past damages — where that nearly $2.9 billion number comes in — while the schools would have to pay the costs moving forward with multiple reports indicating the Power Four schools would pay upwards of $20 million in revenue sharing. Should the NCAA and the schools not settle, the class-action lawsuit is set to begin in January 2025 and could ultimately be worth more than $4 billion in damages. Even if agreed to this month, it is unlikely that any revenue sharing will go into effect before 2025, according to industry sources.

Baker, the former Massachusetts governor who took over the NCAA in March 2023, pushed back on talk of a deadline set for next week but said that “if a settlement happens, it’s going to become a framework that we’re all going to be working pretty hard to figure out how to make work in the best way possible for all those student-athletes and the schools.”

“I don’t really have a deadline on that,” Baker said. “There are a lot of meetings going on. My view on it is the most important thing for us and for the folks in the A(utonomy) 4, A5 and for the folks on the plaintiff side is to continue to create clarity around what the terms are going to look like. I’m not putting a deadline on it.”





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