The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) has seen a proposed civil rights class action which alleged academic eligibility criteria for Division I (D1) sports discriminate against student-athletes at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) dismissed.
Troyce Manassa played men’s basketball at Savannah State University in Georgia and was part of the team that were deemed ineligible for the 2016-17 postseason due to breaches of the NCAA rules relating to academic gradings of the players.
Manassa’s complaint alleged that the NCAA rules intentionally discriminate against Black student-athletes at historically HBCUs on DI teams through adoption and enforcement of the academic performance program with HBCU’s being 43 times more likely to receive a postseason competition ban than a team from a predominantly white institution, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleged that while just 6.5% of NCAA Division I schools are HBCUs, 72% of the teams that have been banned from postseason competition since 2010 are from HBCUs.
The claim was heard by Judge Richard L. Young in the Southern District of Indiana who said that the claim was filed outside of the necessary window as the alleged damage was done to Mr Manassa on April 26, 2016, when he learned his team wouldn’t be allowed to play in the 2016-17 postseason rather than in October 2020 when he first became aware that the decision was potentially discriminatory against him.
Young also said that because Manassa had graduated in 2017 he will never be subject of the NCAA student athlete regulations again and therefore the claim was dismissed.
However, Young did not comment on if a claim may be successful if a current student athlete were to immediately bring a claim after his team were barred from the postseason as this would satisfy the criteria that ultimately led to Manassa’s claim being dismissed.