St. John's Jordan Dingle, Chris Ledlum sue NCAA over 5th year

St. John's men's basketball standouts Jordan Dingle and Chris Ledlum have sued the NCAA in Queens Supreme Court and are seeking "injunctive relief" after their requests for a fifth year of eligibility were denied.

Both Dingle (Penn) and Ledlum (Harvard) previously played in the Ivy League, which canceled its 2020-21 basketball season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing both from taking the court. Other Division I athletes whose conferences did play in 2020-21, however, were given an automatic fifth year to use.

Under coach Rick Pitino, Dingle and Ledlum were critical players last season at St. John's, which just missed selection for the NCAA tournament and then did not accept an NIT invitation.

Their lawyers argue that because the NCAA's transfer portal closes Wednesday, it could either cost the players a chance to compete elsewhere or solidify another season under Pitino.

"There is a finite amount of roster spots at schools such as St. John's, that regularly play on television and compete in the country's biggest basketball arenas," the lawsuit states. "These schools are rapidly filling their basketball team rosters and each day that passes where Mr. Ledlum and Mr. Dingle are unable to either enter the transfer portal or commit to St. John's for the 2024-2025 Division I Men's basketball season results in losses to both NIL and professional basketball prospects."

Attorneys for Ledlum and Dingle argue that failure to grant the players another season could have "dire consequences" on their athletic, academic and NIL experiences.

"These two student-athletes were unable, through no fault of their own, to play basketball during their sophomore season since the Ivy League canceled all winter sports during the 2020-21 academic year," their attorneys said in a statement. "They were forced to sit and watch while other D-I conferences continued with all or part of their winter seasons, despite COVID. To add insult to injury, the student-athletes who had a chance to participate in athletics during the COVID year received an extra year of eligibility, while student-athletes from conferences that shut down their seasons were not afforded similar treatment. This decision by the NCAA is unreasonable and highly unfair to student-athletes from the Ivy League, and other similarly situated conferences that elected not to play during COVID."

The NCAA has fought, lost and settled cases related to transfer rules, NIL rights and antitrust laws over the past year as the organization that once authoritatively governed collegiate sports continues to evolve in a new climate.

On Monday, ESPN's Pete Thamel and Dan Murphy reported that collegiate leaders are in "deep discussions" to reach a legal settlement that could create new ways for schools to share revenue with athletes in the future.