NCAA, Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Dramatic Change across College Sports

NEW YORK – The NCAA and the nation’s five biggest conferences said Thursday night they have agreed to pay nearly $2.8 billion to settle a host of antitrust claims, a monumental decision that sets the stage for a groundbreaking revenue-sharing model that could start directing millions of dollars directly to athletes as soon as the 2025 fall semester.

NCAA President Charlie Baker along with the commissioners of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference released a joint statement Thursday night announcing they had agreed to settlement terms. They called it the move “an important step in the continuing reform of college sports that will provide benefits to student-athletes and provide clarity in college athletics across all divisions for years to come.”

The deal still must be approved by the federal judge overseeing the case and challenges could arise, but if the agreement stands it will mark the beginning of a new era in college sports where athletes are compensated more like professionals and schools can compete for talent using direct payments.

“There’s no question about it. It’s a huge quantum leap,” said Tom McMillen, the former Maryland basketball player and congressman who has led an association of collegiate athletic directors the past eight years.

The NCAA has agreed to settle a major lawsuit. It still faces a number of legal challenge

The NCAA, which represents some 1,100 schools and more than 500,000 athletes, is no stranger to lawsuits. It has been in court off and on since the early 1980s defending the amateur athlete model at the heart of college athletics.

But the organization has suffered a string of losses in court, highlighted by a 9-0 decision from the Supreme Court in 2021 in which justices ruled that the NCAA cannot limit education-related benefits colleges offer their athletes. In a blistering concurring opinion in the case, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested the organization may be violating antitrust law.


House vs. the NCAA is a class-action lawsuit in the Northern District of California before federal Judge Claudia Wilken, whose previous rulings in NCAA cases paved the way for college athletes to profit from their fame and for schools to direct more money into their hands.

Legal experts had warned that an NCAA loss in this case would upend college athletics as we know it and they were right. The NCAA and the nation’s biggest conferences decided this week to settle it for $2.8 billion and move toward some form of athlete revenue-sharing of all those billions from television deals for big-time college football and March Madness basketball.

The House case settlement was expected to potentially settle some other antitrust claims, including:

— A case in California whose plaintiffs include Duke football player Dewayne Carter, TCU basketball player Sedona Prince and Stanford soccer player Nya Harrison. It seeks to bar the NCAA from enforcing any rules that prohibit athlete compensation.

— Hubbard vs. the NCAA, which seeks damages for athletes who were denied education-related stipends that were the result of the Alston case. The plaintiffs include former Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and former Auburn track athlete Keira McCarrell, and the lawsuit seeks triple damages for all current and former Division I athletes as far back as 2018.

— A similar lawsuit seeking to lift NCAA rules on compensation from schools and conferences filed in federal court by former Colorado football player Alex Fontenot in November 2023. A judge has ruled the case should remain in Colorado.

The biggest question for the NCAA should the House settlement be approved is securing some assurance from Congress that it will not be dragged back into court over the same issues by future college athletes.


There are multiple issues in front of the National Labor Relations Board, including a complaint against USC and the Pac-12; a unionization effort by the men’s basketball team at Dartmouth; an unfair labor complaint against Notre Dame; and a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania filed by former Villanova football player Trey Johnson.

All of it could lead to college athletes being granted employee status. Johnson and others are seeking hourly wages similar to those earned in work-study programs. The Dartmouth team voted 13-2 to form a union, though many steps are ahead including a potential legal fight.

The NCAA and its member schools have insisted they do not consider athletes employees who can collectively bargain for pay and benefits.


The attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Tennessee that challenges the NCAA’s NIL rules after it was revealed the University of Tennessee was among schools facing potential infractions penalties. A judge Feb. 23 granted a preliminary injunction against the NIL rules and said they likely violate antitrust law.


Colorado, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia challenged NCAA rules on athletes who want to change schools, saying the one-year delay in the eligibility of certain athletes who transfer violates antitrust law


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