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Former Colorado State kicker files class action against NCAA

By Kyla Asbury | Sep 10, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - A California man has filed a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association after he claims he was harmed by its recently abandoned rule that prohibited multiyear athletic scholarships for Division I football players.

The suit challenges the NCAA's rules that govern the number and duration of athletics scholarships for Division I football players.

By unlawfully agreeing not to offer multiyear Division I football scholarships, the NCAA and its member institutions ensured that student-athletes who were injured or who simply did not meet the school’s expectations could be cut from a team and their scholarships terminated, according to a complaint filed Aug. 28 in the Southern District of Indiana.

Durrell Chamorro claims in 2005, he was a talented kicker and was considering Division I scholarship offers from Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington before accepting a scholarship from Colorado State University.

CSU told Chamorro that if he maintained a grade point average above 2.0 and did not break any rules, he would receive a scholarship for four or five years if he redshirted, according to the suit.

"Mr. Chamorro maintained a 3.5 grade point average and followed all NCAA and university rules," the complaint states. "Mr. Chamorro redshirted his first year and served as a backup the following year."

Chamorro claims in spring 2007, Coach Sonny Lubick told him that his scholarship would not be renewed.

Chamorro appealed the nonrenewal of his scholarship, and, at the hearing, Lubick said that he wanted to sign another kicker and give another player on the team a scholarship, but scholarship caps prevented him from doing so, according to the suit.

"Mr. Chamorro’s appeal was denied on May 8, 2007," the complaint states. "As a direct result, Mr. Chamorro was forced to leave CSU because he could not afford the cost of out of state tuition."

Chamorro claims he initially transferred to Azusa Pacific University and worked out with its NAIA football team a few times. However, because he could not afford the tuition for a private university, he transferred to California State Polytechnic University - Pomona.

Chamorro incurred substantial debt to finish his education, according to the suit, and, in 2010, he graduated with a degree in philosophy. He graduated magna cum laude and at the top of philosophy department.

Chamorro challenges the NCAA’s prohibition on multiyear Division I football scholarships, and its unlawful caps on the number of Division I football scholarships that can be awarded by Division I member institutions.

"By instituting these rules, the NCAA ensured that thousands of student athletes would receive no scholarships to support them," the complaint states. "As a result of these rules, students receiving scholarships were deprived of an expanded choice of schools to attend and often received less than a full scholarship."

Chamorro claims the NCAA cynically designed the rules for the sole purposes of reducing the costs to its member institutions of running Division I football programs.

The rules have nothing to do with the NCAA’s professed goal of "making the educational experience of the student athlete...paramount," according to the suit.

"To the contrary, by reducing the number of scholarships available to Division I football players and permitting scholarships to be revoked at the whim of coaches, these rules undermine the NCAA’s professed 'mission statement' of making the 'educational experience...paramount.'"

Chamorro claims the purpose of the lawsuit is to require the NCAA to live up to its own professed mission statement by requiring the NCAA and its member institutions to offer more and longer scholarships to Division I football players.

"Before the Court in this case is only whether the NCAA violates antitrust law by agreeing with its member schools to restrain their ability to compensate…[Division I] football players any more than the current association rules allow," the complaint states.

Chamorro is seeking class certification; a declaration that the defendant's conduct constitutes a conspiracy and that the defendant is liable for the conduct; a declaration that the prohibition on multiyear athletic-based scholarships is unlawful; a declaration that the NCAA's restrictions on the number of athletic-based scholarships that can be offered to student-athletes are also unlawful; and actual, trebled and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest.

He is represented by William N. Riley and Joseph N. Williams of Price Waicukauski & Riley LLC; Steve W. Berman, Elizabeth A. Fegan and Daniel J. Kurowski of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP; and Stuart M. Paynter of the Paynter Law Firm PLLC.

The case is assigned to District Judge Richard L. Young.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana case number: 1:14-cv-01421

From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at classactions@legalnewsline.com.

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