U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Appeals Court Upholds NCAA Transfer Rule

Peter Deppe, a college football player, got a bad call.

When his college pulled his scholarship, he went to another school. Then that school withdrew its scholarship under an eligibility rule.

So he did what any athlete does after a bad call; he challenged the rule. In Deppe v. NCAA, that didn't work.

"Year-in-Residence" Rule

Deppe had promise as a punter for Northern Illinois University, but a new coach signed another punter in 2015. Deppe got an offer to play for the University of Iowa, but the school said he was ineligible for a year under an NCAA rule.

The "year-in-residence" rule says that a transfer student is not eligible to play intercollegiate sports for one year after transferring. There are exceptions, but they didn't apply.

Deppe sued, alleging the rule was anti-competitive and violated anti-trust laws. A trial judge dismissed the case, so Deppe took it to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals court affirmed, saying the rule was inherently pro-competition. The judges said it was meant "to preserve the amateur character of college athletics."

Rules Foster Competition

The Seventh Circuit said NCAA rules are intended to foster competition among participating schools. Eligibility rules, in particular, "define what it means to be an amateur or student-athletes."

"Without transfer restrictions, the players in these high-revenue sports could be traded like professional athletes," the appeals panel said.

If it were baseball, that would be two strikes against Deppe. He could take a swing at the U.S. Supreme Court, but that would be another bad call.

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