NCAA To Provide Former Student-athletes With Benefits - Higher Education
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NCAA To Provide Former Student-athletes With Benefits

by Lois Elfman

The NCAA will provide former college football and basketball players with aid for future educational expenses, career development costs and other benefits as part of a lawsuit settlement it reached with ex-athletes.

The settlement in the class action suit Jason White, et al. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, which was reached in January, was given final approval on Aug. 5 by the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Former football players Jason White (Stanford) and Brian Polak (UCLA) and former basketball players Jovan Harris (San Francisco) and Chris Craig (Texas-El Paso) filed a class action complaint on Feb. 17, 2006 on behalf of all student-athletes who received athletic-based, grants-in-aid and participated in a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) or men’s basketball in 16 named conferences. The plaintiffs alleged the NCAA and its member institutions violated the federal antitrust laws by limiting athletic-based aid to tuition, books, housing and meals.

The settlement applies to the class of athletes in the named football and basketball programs who received athletic grants-in-aid from Feb. 17, 2002 to Aug. 4, 2008.

The settlement establishes the creation of a $10 million Former Student-Athlete Fund from NCAA reserves, to which members of the class may apply for funds to cover the costs of career-development services, such as résumé preparation and career counseling (not to exceed $500), and/or reimbursement of future educational expenses (maximum of $2,500 per year for three years).

The NCAA says the settlement creates “greater flexibility” in how schools use the $218 million available through the 2012-13 school year in the Special Assistance and Academic Enhancement funds for existing student-athletes.

The NCAA has created a Web page to explain the benefits. There are additional points about health and accident insurance.

“The NCAA is pleased the court has granted final approval of the settlement agreement in the White case. The settlement allows us to resolve the litigation and enhance the benefits potentially available to former, current and future student-athletes,” said NCAA president Myles Brand in a prepared statement. “By adjusting the rules regarding access to the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid scheduled to be made available for student-athletes over the next several years, it is the NCAA’s intention to help meet any true additional needs of its student-athletes.”

A request for additional comment from the NCAA for Diverse was declined. The NCAA has written that this settlement does not change NCAA legislation related to the definition or calculation of a full grant-in-aid.

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