NCAA asks judge to dismiss 2 lawsuits that challenge scholarship compensation limits



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Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (5) leaps over guard Josue Matias as Oklahoma State safety Jordan Sterns, left, is unable to stop Winston from reaching the end zone for a touchdown in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA and 11 conferences that have played major college football in recent years have filed a motion to dismiss two antitrust lawsuits that accuse the association of illegally capping compensation to athletes.

The NCAA announced Thursday night that it has asked Northern California U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken to dismiss two suits that were filed in March. Wilken ruled this summer against the NCAA in the O'Bannon case, which challenged rules prohibiting college athletes from being compensated for their names, images and likenesses.

One of the suits the NCAA is seeking to dismiss was filed in New Jersey by attorney Jeffrey Kessler on behalf of four athletes, including former Clemson football player Martin Jenkins. The other was originally filed in Northern California and former West Virginia running back Shawn Alston is the lead plaintiff.

Both could eliminate the NCAA's ability to control the costs of scholarships, and the Alston suit seeks hundreds of millions in damages.

The NCAA argues that Wilken's ruling last month in the O'Bannon case, which said schools should pay players for use of their names, images and likeness, also supported the right for school's to cap compensation. Wilken's ruling set a minimum cap at $5,000 per athlete per year.

The NCAA said in a news release that Wilken's decision confirms "antitrust laws allow the NCAA to set limits on benefits provided to student-athletes, including the amount and nature of awards related to athletics-based scholarships."

"The NCAA and its co-defendants argue that Judge Wilken should dismiss these complaints based on her decision in O'Bannon and numerous other federal court decisions," the NCAA said. "These rulings make clear that the current plaintiffs' lawsuits are misplaced. While the NCAA and its co-defendants acknowledge Judge Wilken's legal reasoning on the legitimacy of limiting the amount and nature of financial benefits to student-athletes, the NCAA will continue to appeal the O'Bannon decision because it does not agree with the court's finding in that case that the NCAA violated antitrust laws."

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