Two Florida student athletes filed a lawsuit challenging compensation restrictions on Monday. The lawsuit, brought by attorneys from the MSP recovery law firm, is against the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA).
The lawsuit alleges that the FHSAA currently prevents Florida high school athletes from profiting off their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Moreover, the FHSAA does not allow for private Florida high schools to offer athletic scholarships to prospective student athletes. As a result, athletes are not able to make money from their athletic talents, or use those talents in order to offset expensive private tuition costs.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in NCAA v. Alston, which held that NCAA restrictions on compensation violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. Since Alston, the NCAA altered their compensation rules and allowed for players to profit off of certain NIL. However, these rules have not been expanded to all high school athletes.
The lawsuit also makes a broader criticism of the restrictions. It alleges that FHSAA is “shov[ing] market forces aside” and inflicts “substantial damages” on student athletes. In other words, rather than allowing for market forces to create competition amongst Florida high schools for the most talented athletes, regulations artificially interfere with both high schools and athletes. The lawsuit claims that the NFHS and FHSAA have made over $15 million and $5 million over yearly periods, respectively.
The NFHS has stood firm in their belief that high school athletes should not be compensated. Their executive director, Dr. Karissa Niehoff, claims that compensation was a “troublesome issue” and could disrupt and damage the system of high school sports.
The lawsuit, and future lawsuits of similar type, will test the boundaries of the Supreme Court’s Antitrust jurisprudence. In doing so, they may define the extent to which sports associations can limit the compensation of participating athletes.