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McCormack v. National Collegiate Athletic Asso.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

June 1, 1988

No. 87-2802


 [*1340]  ALVIN B. RUBIN, Circuit Judge:

Finding that the football program of Southern Methodist University had exceeded restrictions on compensation for student athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association suspended the program for the 1987 season and imposed other penalties. A group of SMU alumni, football players, and cheerleaders challenges that action, contending that the NCAA violated the antitrust and civil rights laws by promulgating and enforcing rules restricting the benefits that may be awarded student athletes. While we give the loyal students and alumni credit for making a college try, we affirm the judgment dismissing their complaint, for we hold that some of the plaintiffs lack standing and the others have failed to state a claim for [**2]  which relief can be granted to them.

The NCAA found that Southern Methodist University had violated its rules limiting compensation for football players to scholarships with limited financial benefits. It accordingly suspended the SMU football program for the entire 1987 season and imposed restrictions on it for the 1988 season. David R. McCormack, an attorney and SMU alumnus, then filed this class action suit on behalf of SMU "as an institution," its graduates and current students, several members of its football team, and several cheerleaders.

The complaint, as amended, charges antitrust violations in that (1) the restrictions on compensation to football players constitute illegal price-fixing in violation of the Sherman Act and (2) the suspension of SMU constitutes a group boycott by other NCAA members. The suspension, the complaint alleges, has destroyed the football players' careers and caused the cheerleaders "considerable emotional anguish and distress" by depriving them of the opportunity to conduct their cheerleading activities at games.

In addition, all of the plaintiffs assert that the NCAA has repeatedly imposed penalties on the college football program of SMU [**3]  in unequal fashion and without due process of law, thereby damaging "the image of the University as an academic institution," endangering "[its] existence . . . as an academic institution," and causing it to lose revenues from donors. The NCAA's actions, it is alleged, have deprived McCormack and others of "their right to associate together in support of the University by attendance at the football games of the University," while the football players have been "forced to discontinue their athlete-academic duties" at SMU and the cheerleaders have lost the opportunity to lead cheers at football games.

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845 F.2d 1338 *; 1988 U.S. App. LEXIS 7248 **; 1988-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P68,048

David R. McCormack, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, Defendant-Appellee

Prior History:  [**1]   Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.


athletes, football, eligibility rules, football player, restrictions, antitrust, college football, anti trust law, violations, cheerleaders, damages, injuries, rights, allegations, employees, sports, proper plaintiff, state action, institutions, Contractors, color, games

Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction, Jurisdictional Sources, Constitutional Sources, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, General Overview, Justiciability, Case & Controversy Requirements, Standing, Case or Controversy, Third Party Standing, Preliminary Considerations, Business & Corporate Law, Actions Against Corporations, Derivative Actions, Procedural Matters, Class Actions, Antitrust & Trade Law, Private Actions, Remedies, Regulated Industries, Sports, Education Law, Civil Liability, Student Athlete Injuries, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Dismissal, Involuntary Dismissals, Failure to State Claims, Appeals, Standards of Review, Higher Education & Professional Associations, Colleges & Universities, Monopolies & Monopolization, Conspiracy to Monopolize, Sherman Act, Price Fixing & Restraints of Trade, Per Se Rule & Rule of Reason, Sherman Act, Intercollegiate & Interscholastic Athletics, Athletic Associations, Civil Rights Law, Section 1983 Actions, Elements, Protected Classes, Protection of Rights, Scope, Contractual Relations & Housing, Property Rights (sec. 1982), Public Discrimination, Color of State Law, State-Authorized Actions