A judge in the U.S. District Court in Chicago has denied a temporary restraining order filed by twin brothers Matt Bewley and Ryan Bewley against the NCAA. The injunction would have allowed the pair of former touted recruits to play basketball immediately at Chicago State.
The NCAA denied their eligibility after the Bewley brothers played for Overtime Elite. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, they allege the NCAA violated both the Illinois Student-Athlete Endorsement Rights Act and federal antitrust law in denying their eligibility to play for Chicago State.
In a docket entry filed Tuesday, Judge Robert W. Gettleman denied the TRO. The brothers will remain ineligible until they’re granted a preliminary injunction. A hearing is currently scheduled for Dec. 14. However, Tuesday’s news doesn’t mean they won’t have their injunction granted next month.
“I’m assuming the judge denied it because he decided there wasn’t any threat of irreparable harm to them – not playing a few games,” Mit Winter, a college sports attorney with Kansas City-based Kennyhertz Perry, told On3. “To get a TRO there has to be an immediate threat of irreparable harm or there needs to be a failure for merits of success. I’m assuming that’s not the basis that doesn’t signal if the NCAA is going to win or lose.”
Six weeks before the inception of the NIL Era in college sports, the twins became the first high school underclassmen to sign deals with Overtime Elite. Reportedly two-year, seven-figure agreements, the lawsuit states the Bewley brothers agreed to athletic scholarships to cover education-based expenses and “assigned their NIL rights to OTE for the term of the contract in exchange for monetary compensation.”
Lawsuit tests NCAA’s rules
In the initial complaint filed by the Bewley’s attorneys, the lawyers accused of the NCAA deploying “selective enforcement,” citing the former Overtime Elite players who have been awarded eligibility. Kentucky’s Robert Dillingham and Stanford’s Kanaan Carlyle both played in OTE last season.
“The NCAA cannot by its actions treat Overtime Elite as an amateur high school showcase and then later declare it to be a professional league only for two specific individuals,” the attorneys wrote in a motion. “Such selective enforcement is an abuse of power that cannot survive judicial scrutiny under the rule of reason.”
On a broader level, this lawsuit could test the NCAA’s rules that high school athletes are prohibited from being compensated to attend a specific school. According to the brothers’ attorneys, the NCAA bylaws are unreasonable restraints of trade in violation of federal antitrust laws.
The NCAA has yet to come down on a school with an NIL-related infraction. NCAA president Charlie Baker has made countless trips to Washington, D.C., since taking the job this past spring, pushing Congress for a federal NIL mandate. On the wish list is an antitrust exemption and the power to supersede state laws, which have littered the college sports landscape.
The Bewley twins will have to wait until Dec. 14 to find out if they’ll play this season. To date, the brothers have missed three Chicago State games. The Cougars host Cal State Northridge on Tuesday night.