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SAUNDERS v. NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

September 26, 1972

ALPHRA SAUNDERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bauer, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

  This cause comes on defendant's motion for summary judgment
pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
This is an action under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1
 and 2, and the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15 and 26. The
plaintiff, Alphra Saunders, filed his complaint on December 2,
1969, naming as defendants the National Basketball Association
("NBA"), its member teams, and its Commissioner. The plaintiff
alleges that since 1961 he has been denied an opportunity to
prove his eligibility for membership in the NBA. He further
alleges that this denial has been made by defendants
arbitrarily pursuant to a conspiracy. The plaintiff seeks
injunctive relief plus money damages or, alternatively, money
damages alone.

The instant motion is based on a claim that the action is barred both by the applicable Statute of Limitations and also by plaintiff's admitted failure to request or apply for the employment which he alleges was denied him. The defendants aver that based on the Stipulations of the parties, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that as a matter of law, judgment should be rendered in their favor.

Plaintiff contends that defendant's motion for summary judgment should be denied for the following reasons:

    I. There are genuine issues of material fact concerning
       plaintiff's compliance with the applicable Statute of
       Limitations.
   II. Plaintiff's claim is not barred by his failure to
       request or apply for employment.
  III. The motion for summary judgment should be denied for
       the following additional reasons:

A. The nature of summary procedure.

B. Prior rulings in this case.

C. Plaintiff's right of trial by jury.

The following facts, inter alia, were stipulated to by the parties on June 23 and July 1, 1971. First, that the National Basketball Association ("NBA") is a league of professional basketball teams which each year conducts a "college draft" in which college players are selected by NBA teams for possible employment. Second, that plaintiff played basketball at Bradley University between 1957 and 1961. Third, that during his senior year plaintiff was not a regular starting player at Bradley; that he was not named to either the first or second Missouri Valley All-Conference Teams, and that he was expelled from Bradley because he failed to report his receipt of money from men who tried to induce him to shave points in Bradley University games. Fourth, that plaintiff has never applied to play in the NBA, that he never requested a try-out with any NBA team (although none of the defendants ever told him that he was ineligible for such a try-out), and that during the period from the completion of his college basketball career in 1961 until he filed suit in 1969, he never communicated with any of the defendants to show any interest in becoming an NBA player. Fifth, that of the 24 players in plaintiff's Conference who finished ahead of him in individual scoring during his last year of varsity basketball at Bradley, only 13 were drafted by the NBA and of these, seven did not play in the NBA for even one full year. Sixth, that over two-thirds of those individuals drafted by the NBA College Draft system in the years between 1960 and 1967 did not see one full year of active service in the NBA for various reasons (i. e. cut by the teams, not offered a contract, did not accept a contract, etc.*fn1).

Because the stipulations of uncontested facts show conclusively that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, it is this Court's opinion that the defendant's motion for summary judgment should be granted.

I. THE ACTION IS BARRED BY THE STATUTE OF ...


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