The US Department of Justice joins an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NCAA's transfer rules.

US Department of Justice on Thursday Join a multi-state lawsuit challenging the NCAA's transfer eligibility rules.specifically regarding multiple transfers that require a year's stay in residency before returning to competition.

The original lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in December, was brought by attorneys general in seven states, led by Ohio. It argued that the NCAA's multiple-time transfer rule was an illegal restriction on college athletes under the Sherman Antitrust Act by impeding athletes' ability to sell their name, image and likeness (NIL) and control their education. In addition to the Justice Department, attorneys general from Minnesota, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia also joined on Thursday.

“There is strength in numbers,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement. “This case would never have succeeded if so many players had not been sidelined by the arbitrary and unfair rule imposed by the NCAA. We are fighting for better competition and long-term change.”

The lawsuit initially obtained a temporary restraining order granting immediate eligibility in December to any NCAA college athletes who were unable to play due to residency requirements for multiple times. This decision led to a preliminary crossover agreement between the NCAA, the plaintiffs and the court that granted immediate eligibility to athletes through the 2023-24 academic calendar, as well as any fall 2024-2025 athletes who become multiple transfers before the end of the season. Calendar 2023-24. For example, if a multiple-time transfer in football transfers to a new school before the end of the 2023-24 school year, they will be immediately eligible to compete at the new school for the 2024 football season.

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The Justice Department's additions and four new attorneys general indicate the lawsuit is still pushing for a permanent rule change by the NCAA, or court guidance that replaces the NCAA rule. In January 2021, the Justice Department sent a memo to the NCAA, then under former President Mark Emmert, outlining concerns about the NCAA's eligibility rules and no-failure policies. Despite recent changes by the NCAA, including allowing nil earnings and creating a one-time penalty-free transfer, the Justice Department's continued involvement suggests the organization has not gone far enough.

The suit is one of many the NCAA is currently facing on multiple fronts, and was filed the same month that current president Charlie Baker put forward a Division I split proposal that would allow schools to compensate athletes directly. It's all part of the NCAA's ongoing pursuit of an antitrust exemption from Congress. This topic was indirectly referenced Thursday at the 11th NIL-related Congressional hearing in Washington, DC

“I think ultimately we're going to need some federal support, even if it's limited protection,” Baker said during the hearing. “Because otherwise, one of the things I've learned in my short time here is that if a member doesn't like a rule that a member has made, it's like a federal case the next day. People start spending money on lawyers and I don't really see how that benefits anyone .

(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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