Student athletes beat motion to dismiss in case seeking damages for discriminatory
treatment, according to FeganScott and May Lightfoot Law.
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 16) — A U.S. District Court handed a first victory to a group of Black student-athletes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) seeking to change NCAA rules that they claim intentionally discriminate against and punish them.
The case, filed in 2020, claims that the NCAA’s Academic Performance Program (APP) — ostensibly designed to improve student-athlete academic performance — in fact undermines HBCUs’ mission to serve the historically underserved Black community, including Black student-athletes. It further alleges that the NCAA knew the APP was racially discriminatory but enacted and enforced it anyway.
“The NCAA’s blunt application of the APP has detrimentally impacted the academic and athletic careers of many student athletes.”
On Sept. 14, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss the suit in part, ruling that the claims of two former student-athletes could move forward. If the case is certified by the court as a class action, the case would represent the hundreds of HBCU student-athletes who have been negatively impacted by the program.
“We are gratified and encouraged that the court sees the importance of this issue and the APP’s negative effects on Black student-athletes,” said Elizabeth Fegan, founding partner and managing member of FeganScott. “The NCAA’s blunt application of the APP has detrimentally impacted the academic and athletic careers of many student athletes. We look forward to presenting the evidence to the court.”