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Press Release

Justice Department Joins Lawsuit Challenging National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA) Transfer Eligibility Rule

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Today, the Justice Department joined 10 states and the District of Columbia in a civil antitrust lawsuit challenging the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA) Transfer Eligibility Rule. The amended complaint alleges that the NCAA unreasonably restricts college athletes’ freedom to transfer between academic institutions by limiting their eligibility to participate in intercollegiate contests if they transfer more than once during their college careers. By deterring transfers, the rule also denies athletes educational opportunities.

Last month, the states of Ohio, Colorado, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia filed this lawsuit in the Northern District of West Virginia. Shortly after filing, the court granted the states’ request for a temporary restraining order, finding the NCAA’s Transfer Eligibility Rule likely violates Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Today, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint adding the United States, the states of Minnesota, Mississippi and Virginia and the District of Columbia as co-plaintiffs.

“We are proud to stand with our state law enforcement partners on behalf of college athletes across the nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “NCAA Division I institutions compete with each other not just on the playing field or in the arena, but to recruit and retain college athletes. College athletes should be able to freely choose the institutions that best meet their academic, personal and professional development needs without anticompetitive restrictions that limit their mobility by sacrificing a year of athletic competition.”

The amended complaint alleges that the NCAA’s one-time-transfer rule unreasonably restrains competition in the markets for athletic services in men’s and women’s Division I basketball and Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football, as well as for athletic services in all other men’s and women’s Division I sports. The rule forces college athletes who transfer more than once to sit on the sidelines for an entire season before they are eligible to compete in NCAA athletic competitions at their new school. The amended complaint further alleges that the restriction limits college athletes’ bargaining power and harms both their educational and athletic experiences.

Updated January 18, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-66