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NCAA Agrees to Remove Transfer Eligibility Rule for Division I Student-Athletes

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached an agreement with the NCAA, or the National Collegiate Athletic Association, that would restore competition for student-athletes interested in playing at Division I institutions.

Jonathan KanterJonathan KanterThat is, DOJ filed a proposed consent decree May 30 to prohibit the NCAA from enforcing its transfer eligibility rule.

“This resolution is a testament to the benefits of federal and state enforcers working together to ensure free markets and fair competition for all Americans,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division.

Kanter said Division I student-athletes will be able to choose the institutions that best meet their academic, personal, and professional development needs now free from anticompetitive rules that unfairly limit their mobility.

The proposed consent decree would also prohibit the NCAA from enforcing the “rule of restitution” against anyone in connection with the transfer eligibility rule as well as forbid the intercollegiate organization from implementing rules imposing similar restrictions between Division I colleges and universities.

In January, DOJ’s antitrust division joined a civil lawsuit under the Sherman Act against the NCAA to end the NCAA’s transfer eligibility rule. It alleged that the rule limited competition for student-athletes and restricted their ability to transfer to colleges and universities that provided better educational and athletic opportunities for them.

An amended complaint filed by DOJ, 10 states, and the District of Columbia, also alleged that the NCAA’s rule of restitution was anticompetitive because it deterred college athletes from challenging anticompetitive rules in court.

The proposed consent decree, if approved by the court, enjoins the NCAA from enforcing the transfer eligibility rule and from adopting any similar rule in the future. The proposal also requires that the NCAA issue an additional year of eligibility to certain qualifying student-athletes who were previously deemed ineligible to participate because of the transfer eligibility rule.

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