CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Eight Nebraska football players have filed a lawsuit against the Big Ten. By doing so, the players hope to force the conference to reverse its previous decision to postpone its football season until 2021.
However, the Big Ten Conference’s immediate response was to fight the legal action in court.
The 13-page suit, which was filed Thursday in the Nebraska District Court of Lancaster County in Lincoln and is requesting an expedited discovery ruling by judge Susan Strong. The suit claims the Big Ten's decision to cancel the 2020 fall sports calendar, which included football, was "arbitrary and capricious" and should be overturned because it didn't follow established guidelines along with being guided what the suits is claiming was flawed medical information provided by the Big Ten Conference COVID-19 medical task force.
“Over a week ago, my office sent a letter to Commissioner Kevin Warren with the Big Ten Conference asking for transparency,” said Mike Flood, lead attorney for the Nebraska players group. “(Flood’s clients) were having a very tough time understanding why the Big Ten Conference suddenly reversed itself from six days prior when they released a schedule.”
Flood, who served in the Nebraska Legislature from 2005 to 2013 and served six of those years with the Speaker of the Legislature title, has announced he would run again for his state office in the 2020 election cycle in the 19th district. Flood will run unopposed for that seat this November. Flood said Thursday morning his clients want the information the Big Ten’s COP/C had when it made it decision and how each school president/chancellor voted on the matter.
The plaintiffs named in the complaint, filed in the District Court of Lancaster County, are Cornhuskers linebackers Garrett Snodgrass, Garrett Nelson and Jackson Hannah along with Nebraska offensive linemen Ethan Piper and Brant Banks and safety Noa Pola-Gates, wide receiver Alante Brown, and long snapper Brig Banks.
The suits holds three counts against the conference including wrongful interference with business expectations, breach of contract and declaratory judgement. The final two counts claim the Big Ten did not hold an actual vote among the league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors despite Warren having stated multiple times the group voted “overwhelmingly in support” to postpone fall sports in the hope of having them in the spring.
Within an hour of this suit being filed in Nebraska, the Big Ten Conference released a statement on the matter saying amongst other things that “this lawsuit has no merit” and the league office was willing to fight the matter in court and considered the decision by the league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors on Aug. 11 to be final.
“We share the disappointment that some student-athletes and their families are feeling. However, this lawsuit has no merit and we will defend the decision to protect all student-athletes as we navigate through this global pandemic,” the league’s statement reads. “We are actively considering options to get back to competition and look forward to doing so when it is safe to play."