Mississippi joins 11-state lawsuit challenging NCAA transfer eligibility rule

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Mississippi has joined 11 other states in challenging the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) eligibility requirements for a student-athlete to receive a waiver to transfer to another school and play immediately.

The attorney general’s office argues that the current regulations pose an illegal restraint on college athletes’ ability to sell their image and likeness and control their education.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, the lawsuit challenges the NCAA’s requirement that college athletes who transfer a second time among Division I schools wait one year before competing in games.

This follows a temporary restraining order, later extended to a preliminary injunction, which prohibits the college athletics’ regulatory body from enforcing the rule that forces multi-time transfers to have to sit out for a year instead of suiting up as soon as a new season begins.

The preliminary injunction will run through at least the end of the 2023-24 academic year, ensuring that winter and spring athletes can complete their seasons free from the rules and restrictions. A trial date in the case has yet to be scheduled.

Attorneys general in the 11 states are hopeful that the NCAA’s eligibility rule will be overturned indefinitely, granting more leeway for student-athletes to choose as many collegiate destinations as they deem fit for their development.

“The NCAA’s Transfer Eligibility Rule unfairly targets and punishes college athletes who pursue education and competitive opportunities at a better-matched school,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said.

“Students and their parents should be able to direct their education, and for student-athletes, that includes choosing the school that best fits their academic and athletic needs. The NCAA’s rule robs students of a significant portion of their college eligibility, hinders the development of their skills, and dramatically impacts their immediate and long-term economic opportunities.”

Ole Miss benefitted from the preliminary injunction in both basketball and football. Multi-year basketball transfer Brandon Murray was given the green light to compete midway through nonconference action following the court’s decision to halt the NCAA’s transfer eligibility rule. Murray made his debut against California on December 16 and has appeared in every game since.

On the football field, Clemson transfer TJ Dudley, who had not been cleared to compete in the regular season, was deemed eligible to compete in the Rebels’ 38-25 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win over Penn State.

This current case is believed to be the first time that the U.S. Department of Justice has ever signed on to a state-led antitrust lawsuit.

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