Two Brown University basketball players have sued their school and the seven other Ivy Leagues over their policy against handing out athletic scholarships — claiming it amounts to illegal price-fixing, new court papers show.
The agreement between the elite institution not to pay these Division I athletes nor give them athletic scholarships keeps competition among the Ivies down, thereby raising prices for their athletes – violating antitrust laws, according to the federal suit filed Tuesday in Connecticut.
“The Ivy League Agreement, however, unlawfully limits competition on price to attract and retain Ivy League Athletes,” the filing charges.
Former Brown men’s basketball player Tamenang Choh and current Brown women’s basketball player Grace Kirk says the policy means the students have to pay or borrow “many of thousands of dollars a year, which is especially onerous for athletes from lower-income families,” the suit states.
Choh and Kirk filed a class-action lawsuit so that others who’ve been harmed by this alleged Ivy League agreement can join the case.
Choh – who played on the school’s basketball team from 2017 through 2022 – and Kirk – who has been on the team since 2020 – only received need-based financial aid that didn’t cover the cost of schooling, according to their filing.
Tuition at Brown costs nearly $90,000 for the 2023 to 2024 school year, according to Brown’s website.
Choh and Kirk and other Ivy League athletes “devote” up to 20 hours a week to training and competing in their sport and they rake in cash for the schools which “monetize” their athletic services through ticket sales, TV rights, merchandise sales and alumni donations, the court papers state.
Out of over 350 schools that have Division I athletic programs, only the Ivy Leagues don’t compensate their athletes or offer scholarships, the suit states.
And other top non-Ivy League schools – such as Stanford, Duke, Notre Dame and Rice – offer athletic scholarships and pay to their student-athletes and still manage to maintain “stellar academic standards while competing for excellent athletes,” the suit claims.
“The Ivy League agreement is particularly egregious given the huge amounts of money these schools have in their endowments,” Choh and Kirk’s lawyer Ted Normand said.
“Where hundreds of Division I schools with much fewer resources compete without limits on athletic scholarships and compensation or reimbursement, the Ivy League schools have no excuse for not doing the same.”
Columbia declined to comment. The other schools didn’t return requests for comment Thursday.