MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — One week after releasing a statement on the NCAA’s decision to deny WVU fifth-year senior guard RaeQuan Battle’s waiver for this season, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has written a letter to governing body of college athletics, urging a reversal of its decision.
Morrisey’s letter, which spans six pages, sites the NCAA Constitution, past rulings from the NCAA’s Committee for Legislative Relief, and Battle’s pre-collegiate background, among other things, as factors to why the NCAA should change its ruling on the matter.
“Considering the NCAA’s past practices, he had no reason to know that the NCAA would apply its transfer restrictions as aggressively as it has here, as the full import of the policy became clear only months later. And since arriving at WVU, public reports confirm that he has become central to the community (while continuing the academic success that he enjoyed at his other institutions). Yet RaeQuan now must sit,” Morrisey writes on page three of his letter.
“Given just how many obstacles RaeQuan has already faced during his time in college, one would expect the NCAA to show some of the ‘flexibility’ that it has touted before. Yet at least to this point, it hasn’t.”
The West Virginia Attorney General detailed the hardships that Battle has overcome in his life, including losing a cousin to suicide in 2013. Morrisey argues that West Virginia University has a history of helping basketball student-athletes use the sport to overcome challenging circumstances.
“[J]ust ask Jerry West,” wrote Morrisey.
West Virginia University announced it was appealing the NCAA’s decision on Battle’s waiver claim. Morrisey is part of a small, but growing, list of government officials to release statements or pen letters to the NCAA in recent weeks.
North Carolina AG Josh Stein did the same in September regarding a football player at the University of North Carolina. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced last Thursday that he would write the NCAA. Justice sent that letter to the association on Friday, Oct., 27. Ohio’s Attorney General has also written the NCAA regarding a Cincinnati basketball player.
Battle announced his intent to transfer to West Virginia in April after playing two seasons at Montana State. Battle led the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament last season, averaging 17.7 points per game. He earned All-Big Sky Conference first-team honors.
West Virginia is Battle’s third school and second transfer destination. He began his collegiate career at Washington, where he played two seasons, before transferring to Montana State.
Battle is regarded as one of the 10 best transfer portal steals of this offseason.
When he released a statement on Oct. 24, Morrisey claimed the decision to deny Battle’s waiver request “raises serious legal issues.” He expanded on that matter on page four of Monday’s letter.
“The Association’s decision to restrain hundreds of student-athletes each year—thus depriving them of the chance to pursue the athletic and educational opportunities of their choice—raises serious questions under the antitrust laws,” typed Morrisey. “That’s especially so given that these opportunities are often tied to name, image, and likeness agreements that in turn provide substantial commercial benefits to athletes at Division I institutions like WVU. Yet to date, the NCAA has never convincingly explained how these restrictions align with either state or federal antitrust law. See 15 U.S.C. § 1 (barring agreements to restrain trade or commerce); W. Va. Code § 47-18-3(a) (same). No wonder, then, that my colleagues in Ohio, North Carolina, and even at the U.S. Department of Justice have already warned that the Association’s transfer-related actions may be unlawful.”
Morrisey ended the section of his letter titled “The NCAAs Problematic Handling of Transfers Generally” with the following statement:
“The NCAA needs to take another look at its transfer rules and implement provisions that do not
present questionable and facially anticompetitive restraints of trade.”