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U.S. Dept. of Justice joins Ohio-led antitrust lawsuit against NCAA transfer eligibility rule

J. David Ake

The U.S. Department of Justice and several other states are joining an antitrust lawsuit led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost against the NCAA over the transfer eligibility rule that the attorneys general said restricts an athlete's ability to sell their name, image and likeness.

The lawsuit was filed in December over a transfer eligibility rule that requires college athletes to wait one year before competing in games if they transfer a second time between Division I schools. This follows the U.S. District Court issuing a preliminary injunction in December, prohibiting the NCAA from enforcing the rule and allowing college athletes to compete.

Yost said in a press release that the DOJ and states like Minnesota, Mississippi, Virginia and D.C. joining the lawsuit lend strength to their argument that the rule is illegal and limits students' abilities to control their education. The six states on the original lawsuit are Colorado, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

"This case would never have come to pass had many players not been sidelined by the NCAA’s arbitrary and unfair rule. We’re fighting for better competition and long-term change," Yost said.

Yost said this is believed to be the first time the DOJ has signed on to a state-led antitrust lawsuit.

A trial date isn't scheduled yet and the preliminary injunction is set to last through the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.