Eight Nebraska football players have filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Lancaster County against the Big Ten Conference, in documents shared Thursday. The lawsuit seeks a reversal by the Big Ten on its decision to postpone the fall sports season and asks for clarity on how the conference made its decision.
The eight players represented in the lawsuit are Garrett Snodgrass, Garrett Nelson, Ethan Piper, Noa Pola-Gates, Alante Brown, Brant Banks, Brig Banks and Jackson Hannah. A number of Husker parents spoke on the possibility of legal action if the Big Ten did not reply to their initial requests for answers. The parent group had yet to hear back as of Monday, Aug. 24.
“The lawsuit isn’t about money or damages, it’s about real-life relief,” a statement from the players’ attorney Mike Flood said. “These student athletes have followed all the precautions, underwent regular testing, and lived according to the prescribed guidelines of the world-class experts at UNMC for the chance to play football in September.”
The lawsuit specifically raises three counts against the Big Ten Conference: wrongful interference with business expectations, breach of contract and declaratory judgment. In reference to the last count, the lawsuit calls into question whether or not the Big Ten did actually vote on a decision to postpone the season. Parents for 11 of the 14 Big Ten programs have asked to see proof of the vote, citing inconsistency in comments by various conference presidents. The lawsuit from the Nebraska players claims the Big Ten’s potential non-vote (or at least not producing record of it) violates its governing documents.
Commissioner Kevin Warren shared an open letter one week following the conference’s decision stating that while he understood the disappointment and questions, it would not be revisited. He listed a number of reasons in the letter for the decision, but did not share information on the vote.
“Sadly, these student athletes have no other recourse than filing a lawsuit against the conference,” Flood said. “The Presidents and Chancellors of these Universities have taken inconsistent positions about whether there was a vote, and they have largely failed to explain what positions they took. Our Clients must take their claims to the Courthouse to find the justice and fairness they have been denied [by] the Big Ten Conference that has failed to answer basic questions.”
The lawsuit says that the players represented will not seek or accept damages of $75,000 or greater in the action. The Nebraska parent group tweeted that the lawyers are at the courthouse as of Thursday morning.
UPDATE (1:30 p.m. CT): ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg shared a statement from the Big Ten Conference in response to the Nebraska players’ lawsuit.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) August 27, 2020