Judge Drops NCAA from ‘Academic Sham’ Lawsuit by Ex-North Carolina Athletes

By Aaron Beard | August 15, 2016

A federal judge has granted the NCAA’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two former North Carolina athletes seeking to hold college sports’ governing body at least partly responsible for the school’s long-running academic fraud scandal.

In a ruling signed Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta C. Biggs stated attorneys for former women’s basketball player Rashanda McCants and ex-football player Devon Ramsay hadn’t proven that the NCAA had a legal obligation to ensure the soundness of classes offered at UNC and elsewhere.

McCants and Ramsay filed their lawsuit in January 2015 months naming the NCAA and UNC as defendants. That came two months after an independent probe conducted by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein outlined nearly two decades of irregular courses featuring GPA-boosting grades in a department popular with athletes.

NCAA spokeswoman Emily James didn’t immediately return an email for comment Friday afternoon.

The case led to questions from UNC’s accreditation agency, which placed the school on a year of probation that expired in June. UNC also is currently facing five potentially top-level charges from the NCAA connected to the case.

Biggs issued a stay on UNC’s motion to dismiss, noting that another lawsuit filed by two former ex-UNC athletes is pending while the court determines whether the school is an arm of the state with sovereign immunity. That case was filed by former football player Michael McAdoo and former women’s basketball player Kenya McBee.

Biggs heard arguments from attorneys in both cases during an all-day court session in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in April.

One of the attorneys handling the McCants-Ramsay case is Michael Hausfeld, who represented former UCLA men’s basketball standout Ed O’Bannon in an antitrust case against the NCAA. Another is Robert F. Orr, a former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice who has become an advocate of NCAA reform.

In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Orr said that attorneys would take some time “digesting” Biggs’ order to figure out whether to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, located in Richmond, Virginia.

“We have to sit down and evaluate the chances of success and review the judge’s order to see what we disagree with other than the conclusions,” Orr said.


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