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Rock v. National Collegiate Athletic Association

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

January 23, 2015

JOHN ROCK, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, Defendant.

ENTRY ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT

RICHARD L. YOUNG, CHIEF JUDGE United States District Court

Plaintiff, John Rock, filed this antitrust class action against the Defendant, National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), challenging certain regulations instituted by the NCAA. These include: (1) the NCAA’s prohibition on multi-year Division 1 football scholarships, and (2) the caps on the number of Division 1 football scholarships that can be awarded by Division 1 member institutions. Plaintiff now moves for leave to file a Third Amended Class Action Complaint (“TAC”). The proposed TAC contains the same claims and substantive allegations as the Second Amended Class Action Complaint (“SAC”). The only difference between the two complaints is the definition of the class. The NCAA objects on grounds that the amendment is filed far beyond the Case Management Plan (“CMP”) deadline for the amendment of pleadings, and, if granted, will prejudice the interests of the NCAA. For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS the Plaintiff’s motion.

I. Procedural and Factual Background

An understanding of the procedural background in this case is essential in understanding the court’s ruling. Accordingly, the court will begin with the deadlines established in the parties’ original Case Management Plan (“CMP”). That CMP, filed on August 22, 2013, established a deadline of November 29, 2013 to file any motions to amend the pleadings, and a fact discovery cut-off date of July 29, 2014. (See Filing No. 60 at 4, § III (B) & (C)). In addition, the CMP required that Plaintiff file his motion for class certification on or before July 29, 2014, and that the NCAA “shall depose Plaintiff’s experts within 30 days of the filing of [that motion].” (Id., § III (D)(1)). During a telephonic status conference held on April 11, 2014, Plaintiff requested an extension of the discovery deadline from July 29, 2014, to December 29, 2014. (Filing No. 80). Even though the NCAA did not oppose the oral motion, the Magistrate Judge granted the request in part by extending the discovery deadline to October 31, 2014. (Id.). The Magistrate Judge also ordered that Plaintiff’s motion for class certification, and any expert reports in support of that motion, be filed on or before November 24, 2014. (Id.). On August 1, 2014, the Magistrate Judge advised the parties that the CMP was modified to reflect “no further extensions” on the class certification briefing schedule. (Filing No. 88).

Meanwhile, Plaintiff hired Daniel A. Rascher, who has a Ph.D. in Economics, “to opine on whether there exists a class of Division 1 college football athletes for whom common impact could be shown through economic evidence.” (Filing No. 126-6 at 4, ¶ 6). As part of his analysis, Dr. Rascher needed squad lists[1] “laying out the identities and patterns of compensation provided to Division 1 football athletes.” (Id., ¶ 7). Therefore, in February 2014, Plaintiff specifically requested the NCAA to produce those lists. (Filing No. 126-1, ¶ 2). The NCAA did so on May 16 and May 22, 2014. (Id.). Because the squad lists were produced in image-only pdf format, and Dr. Rascher needed the lists in machine-readable format to perform a data analysis, Plaintiff’s counsel hired 120 people, mostly law students, to review the squad lists and put them in machine-readable format. (Id.; see also Filing No. 126-6 at 4-5, ¶¶ 7-8). Dr. Rascher testified that he received three sets of data between mid-September and early October, but in his opinion, the data needed additional work to improve its quality. (Filing No. 126-6 at 5, ¶ 9). That endeavor was not completed until late October 2013. (Id.). The final set of data needed for Dr. Rascher’s analysis – historical records from the 1970s and 1980s – was produced in Nov. 2014. (Id., ¶ 11). According to the Plaintiff, the results of Dr. Rascher’s analysis of the economics of college recruiting required an amendment of the class definition, prompting the filing of the present motion.

The differences between the definitions of the classes as defined in the SAC and the proposed TAC are at the heart of the parties’ dispute. The SAC defines the class as:

Any individual who, while enrolled in an NCAA member institution, (1) received a scholarship, grant or tuition discount (“Grant in Aid” or “GIA”) based on athletics leadership, ability, participation or performance from an NCAA member institution for at least one year for the purpose of playing Division 1 football, (ii) had their GIA reduced or not renewed and (iii) subsequently paid tuition at a college, university or other institution of higher education.

“Excluded from the proposed Class are individuals whose GIAs were reduced, cancelled or not renewed due to one of the reasons enumerated in Bylaw 15.3.4.2[2] of the NCAA Division 1 Manual.” (Filing No. 46 at 22, ¶ 85).

The proposed TAC splits the class into an “Injunctive Relief Class” and a “Core Issues Class.” The Injunctive Relief Class is defined as:

All individuals who, from December 17, 2007 to the present, have been classified under NCAA rules as an “initial counter[3]” (during their first term on campus or in the spring term prior to their first fall term on campus) on an NCAA Division 1 football team.

The Core Issues Class is defined as:

All individuals who, from December 17, 2007 to the present, have been classified under NCAA rules as an “initial counter” (during their first fall term on campus or in spring term prior to their first fall term on campus) on an NCAA Division 1 football team, and
(1) were recruited by at least one school that is a member of the NCAA’s Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (“FBS”) (at the time of their recruitment or during their period of NCAA athletics eligibility), and
(2) did not receive their initial year’s athletics-related grant-in-aid for the full duration of their undergraduate education or ...

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