CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Thursday announced three other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Justice have joined the bipartisan multistate coalition led by Ohio in a lawsuit challenging the NCAA’s Transfer Eligibility Rule.
The coalition now consists of 10 states, D.C. and the USDOJ.
“We are confident in the merits of our case that the NCAA’s transfer policy is flawed and has failed to maintain a consistent and defensible transfer rule,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “More states have joined with us along with the DOJ to set the rule straight to reflect fairness for the athletes and adherence to the law.”
“The NCAA needs to enact consistent, logical and defensible rules that are fair and equitable for everyone.”
The coalition argues “the connection between the Rule and academic well-being or athletic amateurism is tenuous at best and is outweighed by the harm it does to college athletes and consumers of college athletics.”
The lawsuit, which was originally filed in December in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, came on the heels of the NCAA’s decision denying RaeQuan Battle a transfer waiver so he could play basketball for West Virginia University. After a hearing in federal court, Battle and other multiple-transfer students were permitted to participate in games.
The coalition further contends the NCAA’s transfer rule “artificially deters players and teams from achieving optimal matches by forcing college athletes to weigh the one-year ineligibility period against the benefits of moving to a better matched school. It is ironic that this rule, stylized as promoting the welfare of college athletes, strips them of the agency and opportunity to optimize their own welfare as they see fit.”
The lawsuit alleges the NCAA violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
A week after the filing, Judge John Preston Bailey of the Wheeling Division of the district court granted a temporary 14-day restraining order against the NCAA which barred the association from enforcing its transfer rule.
Five days later the court entered a consent order converting the TRO into a preliminary injunction that allowed student-athletes burdened by the association’s transfer rule to play through the winter and spring sports seasons without fear of retaliation.
Attorney General Morrisey was part of the original seven-state coalition led by Ohio—Colorado, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee. The amended lawsuit was joined by the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Virginia and the USDOJ.