About 40,000 college football and basketball players will not need to submit a claim to receive a portion of the $208.7 million the NCAA will pay to settle a federal class-action lawsuit that claimed the value of their athletic scholarships was illegally capped.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in California gave preliminary approval Tuesday to the settlement that was agreed upon by the NCAA and plaintiffs in February. Hagens Berman, the law firm representing plaintiffs, says each eligible person will receive approximately $6,500 and it can begin mailing notice to class members by July.
"We're grateful to the court for preliminarily approving this monumental settlement that will bring real change to the way the NCAA treats Division I players, and grateful to the players themselves for stepping up to the plate," lead attorney Steve Berman said in a statement.
Final approval of the settlement from Wilken is scheduled for November.
The original antitrust lawsuit was filed in 2014 by former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston. The case was later combined with other lawsuits and covers Division I men's and women's basketball players and FBS football players who competed from 2009-2017 and did not receive a cost-of-attendance stipend.
"We are pleased the court has provided preliminary approval in a portion of the grant-in-aid lawsuit," Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer, said in a statement. "The judge's decision allows us to begin steps toward providing class members funds up to, but not exceeding, their full cost of attendance."
In January 2015, the five wealthiest college conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference — passed NCAA legislation that allowed schools to increase the value of an athletic scholarship by several thousand dollars to the federally determined actual cost of attending a college or university.
Cost of attendance includes expenses beyond tuition, room and board, books and fees.
The settlement will be fully funded by NCAA reserves, the association has said. No school or conference will be required to contribute.