Nebraska Football Players File Lawsuit Against Big Ten

Eight Cornhusker football players have taken their fight to play football this fall to the next level - filing a lawsuit in civil court.
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Ohio State players and parents have been quite vocal in their frustration with the Big Ten's decision to postpone the 2020 football season, but none of them have taken it as far as eight Nebraska football players did on Thursday.

Eight Cornhusker football players field a lawsuit against the Big Ten Thursday morning. The suit is being field in the District Court of Lancaster County. The players aren't really seeking financial damages from not having the season. They are seeking a reversal of the league's decision to postpone the season and clarity on the process that university presidents took in making that choice.

The eight players - Garrett Snodgrass, Garrett Nelson, Ethan Piper, Noa Pola-Gates, Alante Brown, Brant Banks, Brig Banks and Jackson Hannah - are represented by attorney Mike Flood.

“Our Clients want to know whether there was a vote and the details of any vote, and whether the Big Ten followed its own rules in reaching its decision,” Flood said. “Sadly, these student-athletes have no other recourse than filing a lawsuit against their conference.”

The lawsuit states represented players won’t seek or accept damages of $75,000 or greater in the action.

The Omaha-World Herald obtained a copy of the lawsuit, which is 13-pages in length. Here is an excerpt from their reporting on the issue.

Specifically, the document raises three counts against the Big Ten: 

» Wrongful interference with business expectations. For football student-athletes, the season represents a chance to work toward a career as a professional player as well as develop personal brands for eventual monetary gain under name/image/likeness legislation. Canceling the fall campaign based on what is now outdated or inaccurate medical information — while not taking into account why players are actually safer in a team environment that tests them regularly — cannot be justified. 

» Breach of contract. The league — through reputation, public statements and its own documents — has established it exists in part to benefit its student-athletes. It potentially violated that contract by not holding an actual vote within its Council of Presidents and Chancellors. 

» Declaratory judgment. The Big Ten not actually voting on the decision, or at least being unwilling and/or unable to produce records of such a vote, violates its governing documents. The decision should be invalid and unenforceable.

This is certainly the most forthcoming action taken by anyone across the Big Ten to date on this issue. There have been open letters, parent protests, a petition circulated by Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields ... but nothing taken quite this far. 

Earlier this week, 11 of the 14 schools (excluding Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana) wrote an open letter signed "Big Ten Parents United" condemning the response from league commissioner Kevin Warren.

The Ohio State football parents, led by Shaun Wade's father Randy, have organized a protest on Saturday at 11 a.m. The protest is scheduled to take place at the rotunda at Ohio Stadium.

UPDATE

The Big Ten has issued a statement in response to the lawsuit.

The case is being heard by Lancaster County Judge Susan Strong.

The Big Ten Conference has retained the services of Andrew Luger. Luger argues "the harm would be incredible" if the board of directors documents were made available to the public, just because eight student-athletes disagree with the league's decision.

Judge Strong is giving the Big Ten until 5 p.m. on Monday to file a written response to the motion for expedited recovery after the league only had a couple of hours to review any documents today before the case was heard in court.

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