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The Sixth Circuit Rejects Coach’s Antitrust Challenge to NCAA’s Disciplinary Rules

Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : June 21, 2008

On June 9, 2008, the Sixth Circuit rejected a coach’s challenge to the NCAA’s disciplinary rules because he did not allege that the disciplinary rules implicated commercial activity or that he suffered antitrust injury. Bassett v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, No. 06-5795, 2008 WL 2329755 (6th Cir. June 9, 2008). The Sixth Circuit held that to state a claim under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, “there must be a commercial activity implicated.” Id. at *5. The court further held that “the appropriate inquiry is whether the rule itself is commercial, not whether the entity promulgating the rule is commercial.” Id. (citations omitted). The court then rejected the challenge because the enforcement of disciplinary rules is not a commercial activity. The court also held that plaintiff did not allege antitrust injury. To satisfy this element, the plaintiff had to allege an “anticompetitive effect on the coaching market.” Id. at *7. The coach’s exclusion based on enforcement of the disciplinary rules was insufficient to establish an antitrust injury. It should be noted that the decision contains good dicta explaining when the rule of reason as opposed the per se analysis applies and the nature of the rule of reason analysis.

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