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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Grambling University student athlete suing NCAA

Grambling University student athlete suing NCAA

Grambling University women’s basketball player Brenda McKinney, is on the verge of a deposition stemming from a federal class action lawsuit she filed against the NCAA in 2023. In the suit McKinney accuses the NCAA of discriminating against HBCU institutions through its academic reform programs.

McKinney argues that the NCAA included metrics in its Academic Performance Program (APP) that it knew would have a discriminatory effect on its HBCU member organizations.

The NCAA requested to delay the lawsuit but U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore denied the request and set a deposition for McKinney on July 17. That happens to fall just a day after a settlement conference that’s scheduled for July 16. Judge Dinsmore wrote in his order, “While Defendant’s failure to have completed the Plaintiff’s deposition prior to the scheduled date of the settlement conference may well be a failure to properly plan its necessary discovery, it is neither good cause, nor an exigent circumstance.”

Arguments within the lawsuit

The Indiana Lawyer has led the reporting on this class action lawsuit, which was filed in Indiana, the home state of the NCAA headquarters. The publication reported in 2023 that the lawsuit includes an underlying argument that the NCAA doesn’t allow student-athletes to make or enforce contracts, which points to the national letter of intent signed by student athletes. In more specific terms, the lawsuit claims that an HBCU is 43 times more likely than a PWI to be given a postseason ban, which places HBCU athletes at a disadvantage.

HBCU basketball player Brenda McKinney of Grambling StateHBCU basketball player Brenda McKinney of Grambling State
Brenda McKinney (NO. 10) at the 2024 SWAC Basketball Tournament (Photo courtesy: SWAC)

According to the lawsuit, “Black student-athletes were not provided full information about the potential consequences of the NCAA’s discrimination against Black student-athletes at HBCUs. As a result, unbeknownst to them, they entered their contracts with substantial disadvantages and effects.”

Elizabeth Fegan, McKinney’s attorney, told Sportico that the lawsuit is related to the NCAA’s failure to live up to its own bylaws. “We are not trying to prevent the NCAA from monitoring academic performance,” Fegan said. “We want them to be educated and successful. But the NCAA promised in its bylaws to tie those measures to the student bodies of schools and that is where the NCAA has failed.”

Stance from the NCAA

The NCAA has maintained the intent of the APP, adopted by the NCAA in 2004, is to ensure all college athletes gain a valuable education on a path toward graduation. 

The NCAA also contends that McKinney lacks standing to pursue individual and class injunctive relief claims. Grambling’s women’s basketball team has never faced an APP-related postseason ban, the NCAA wrote to the court in October, there is “no indication that the team is at any imminent risk of incurring a postseason penalty (or any APP penalty)” through the remainder of McKinney’s collegiate career.

Brenda McKinney is a junior small forward for the Grambling basketball team, she’s a native of Washington, D.C.

Grambling University student athlete suing NCAA

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