A group of athletes from Historically Black College and University (HBCU) have filed a class action lawsuit against the NCAA and its Academic Performance Plan (APP).
Plaintiffs, J & # 39; ta Freeman, Austin Dasent, and Troyce Manassa, claim the NCAA's APP is based on a formula that includes metrics that the NCAA knew would discriminate against Black Student athletes at HBCUs. The lawsuit goes on to say that the APP's off-season bans are a pattern of deliberate discrimination against athletes at HBCUs.
According to HBCU Game Day, teams must achieve certain academic benchmarks for the APP using a metric known as the Academic Progress Rate (APR). Punishment for not meeting the benchmarks can range from austerity practices to a post-season ban.
The lawsuit sets out the benchmarks based on grades, eligibility, and whether athletes graduate or stay in school. They discriminate against HBCU athletes as HBCUs' mission has always been to help low-income first generation students and high-risk students get an opportunity in higher education.
"Despite the NCAA's pledges that this formula will improve graduation performance without affecting ethnic minorities differently," the complaint said.
The complaint also notes that the NCAA knew that their APP's metrics further exacerbated racial disparities, as completion rates for black athletes were 20 to 30 percentage points lower than for white athletes.
Manassa was the captain of the Savannah State University basketball team in 2017, averaging 16.9 points per game. He was also called to the second team of all conferences. However, his season ended with a postseason ban as a team from several years earlier had failed to meet its academic benchmarks.
Manassa had no chance to play, which affected his ability to get a professional overseas contract after graduating.
"Not all schools are created equal," Manassa told NPR. "So how can you keep every school to the same standard if every school doesn't have the resources to meet those standards?"
Manassa and his teammate Dasent told HBCU game day they were unaware of the ban when they got involved with the school. Freeman, a freshman who said she turned down other offers to play lacrosse at Howard University, said in the complaint that her team was also under threat of a post-season ban.
The NCAA has been attacked by past and current athletes for its student-athlete position in recent years. However, NCAA President Mark Emmert has defied calls to change the rules. Now the legislature is taking matters into its own hands.
Sports Illustrated reported that Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has tabled a bill that will allow college athletes to make money through advertising and promotional deals.