Profs consider backing NCAA antitrust exemption
A group of professors seeking reform in college sports wants to
explore the possibility of an antitrust exemption, which could
allow the NCAA to better regulate spending on coaches’ salaries and
The Coalition On Intercollegiate Athletics met in January, and
this week released five policy recommendations made by its steering
All the proposals dealt with finding ways to rein in what many
on the committee view as the runaway costs of college sports and
the outsized influence sports have on campuses.
The NCAA antitrust exemption would generate the biggest change
of the COIA recommendations but would also be the most
controversial because it would require Congressional approval.
Court cases in 1984 and 1995 essentially stripped the NCAA of
any rights to control costs, which has led to growing revenues
through the college football bowl system but also spawned steadily
increasing salaries for coaches and expenses for facilities.
”Without modification of antitrust constraints, there is no
mechanism to restrain the market forces driving rapid commercial
expansion,” the steering committee wrote.
Its four other recommendations were:
-To support the so-called ”collegiate model” of sports and try
to lessen the commercialism that has led to calls that athletes
should be paid to play.
-To advocate for policies that will keep big football
conferences inside the NCAA, which would allow for some oversight
that would be missing if they splintered away.
-To increase efforts to respond to the ”reputational risks”
that the market-driven model of sports pose to U.S. higher
education. This issue came to light, unflinchingly, in the child
sex abuse scandal at Penn State, which had its reputation sullied
because of problems originating in the football program.
-To continue cooperating with the NCAA in trying to bring about
changes, while remaining vigilant about NCAA efforts that place
college sports over the academic missions of the schools
If Congress ever did grant an antitrust exemption, the NCAA
would conceivably have power to regulate what programs spend on
salaries and facilities. It’s an idea that would help the so-called
`have-nots’ in college sports while reining in what the `haves’
could spend, which is one reason the idea hasn’t gathered much
support over the years.
It would also invite Congress to design a new system through
legislation, which many university leaders oppose.
But the COIA steering committee made the recommendation because
it doesn’t see schools or the NCAA as doing enough to keep
themselves in check financially.
”While the NCAA is demonstrating significant ability to
regulate in the interests of higher education in the area of
academic reform, it is prevented by antitrust laws from doing so in
the area of economic regulation, and it has been amply demonstrated
that schools are not able to do so themselves,” the committee