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NC Attorney General Josh Stein Joins Federal Lawsuit Targeting NCAA Over Transfer Rules

Source: The News & Observer

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is taking part in a federal antitrust lawsuit that is targeting the NCAA over its transfer eligibility rule, arguing that it illegally restrains college athletes’ ability to switch to another school and immediately start playing, The News & Observer reported.

Stein is one of seven state attorneys general involved in the lawsuit.

“We’re suing the NCAA over its illegal transfer rule,” Stein said in an N&O interview. “The rule flaunts federal antitrust law and is an illegal restraint of trade on student-athletes. We’re seeking the court to strike down the rule immediately so that basketball players caught up in its web, here in North Carolina and across the country, can get on the court.”

Stein and Gov. Roy Cooper wrote letters to the NCAA and publicly advocated for the organization to change its rules so UNC wide receiver Devontez “Tez” Walker could play. Walker, who is from Charlotte, is a two-time transfer and was denied immediate eligibility at UNC. He was originally enrolled at N.C. Central in Durham but didn’t play for the team after their season was canceled due to COVID-19. He then transferred to Kent State where he played for two seasons before leaving for UNC. The NCAA finally granted a waiver in October that allowed Walker to play the rest of the season.

UNC’s head coach Mack Brown brought national attention to Walker’s predicament after he ripped into the NCAA for not allowing Walker to play at first.

According to NCAA rules, undergraduate athletes can transfer one time and be immediately eligible, but a two-time transfer is required to sit out for a year unless they receive a waiver.

Stein also wrote to the NCAA on behalf of Wake Forest’s 7-foot center, Efton Reid, who was denied a waiver after transferring from Gonzaga to help care for his mother, according to the N&O. The NCAA reversed its decision in early December. 

N.C. State men’s basketball player Kam Woods is a two-time transfer who most recently transferred out of NC A&T and is still awaiting the NCAA’s decision on his waiver.

In the lawsuit, Stein was joined by attorneys general from Ohio, West Virginia, Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee and New York.

“I’m not trying to strike down the NCAA in its entirety,” Stein said. “I’m just trying to make sure its rules don’t violate the law.”

On Dec. 13, the court granted a temporary injunction against the NCAA, according to a statement from Stein:

“We just won a temporary injunction against the NCAA over its transfer rule. I’m pleased that the Court has recognized that the rule is unlawful. I will keep fighting to protect student athletes to ensure that they are free to make their own decisions about what’s best for their futures, just like coaches, administrators and other students can.”

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