Ohio, six other states sue NCAA over transfer rules, arguing it violates antitrust laws
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and six other states’ attorneys general sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) over one of its transfer eligibility directives.
The antitrust lawsuit filed Thursday targets a bylaw that bars some NCAA Division 1 student athletes, who transfer from one school to another, from participating on the field or court for an entire year.
Since 2021, first-time transfers haven't fallen under that directive, and the NCAA will waive the rule for some subsequent transfers, according to Yost. But in a media release, Yost said the NCAA will also “deny waivers for no legitimate reason.”
“As you look at who gets waivers and who doesn't get waivers, the decisions seem to be all over the board, seem to be arbitrary,” he said during a virtual media conference. “This just speaks to the collusive and anti-competitive nature of the NCAA's decision making.”
Although he said the lawsuit was not on behalf of any single athlete, he named several who have been affected by the rule—including Aziz Bandaogo, a two-time transfer now at the University of Cincinnati who was initially denied a waiver.
In the era of name, image and likeness (NIL) laws that enable college athletes to make money, the NCAA’s one-year delay can deal a serious economic blow to them if they’re forced to sit out, Yost said. “The deck is stacked against these kids, and it's not surprising that most of them swallow hard, either don't transfer or take their one-year hit on their eligibility,” he said.
Colorado, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia have all signed on to the federal lawsuit.
In an email statement, an NCAA spokesperson said the organization was “disappointed” states had gone the legal route for resolution, and said it could result in “team rosters changing monthly or weekly.”
“The NCAA believes that if a member school objects to a rule or policy, that member should propose alternative rules that apply to everyone, not turn to lawsuits to bypass the system they designed,” the spokesperson wrote.
Yost said they want an injunction against enforcing the transfer eligibility rule and another rule on restitution—and he’d like to see a ruling in a matter of days, not weeks. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, the full legal text can be read here.