The New Amateurs: The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Application of Amateurism in a Global Sports Arena
International Journal of Sport Management, Vol. 11, No. 2, 304-327
24 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2009 Last revised: 24 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 2010
Scholars have examined the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) definition, development, and application of amateurism (Allison, 2001; Byers, 1995; Crowley, 2006; Falla, 1981; Glader, 1978; Sack & Staurowsky, 1998; Smith, 1993; Thelin, 1996; Watterson, 2000; Wheeler, 2004), but the matter of amateurism as it pertains to international athletes has received limited coverage in academic scholarship even though influence of talent migration has led to a steady increase in the number of international athletes participating in NCAA competition (Bale, 1991; Kaburakis, 2007; NCAA, 2007; Weston, 2006).
One development that has not been sufficiently addressed in the academic literature is how the influence of international athletes, the decision by Division I to not deregulate amateurism, and changes within the student-athlete reinstatement (SAR) governance process all intersected to create a new application of amateurism in the NCAA. It is important to examine this intersection not only because this particular evolution of amateurism policy remains uninvestigated, but also because it is important to understand the scope of forces that influence contemporary policy-making. In this article, the forces of globalization, emerging technology, legal decisions, the demands of member institutions, the pressure on coaches to win, and student-athlete welfare all converge to alter the way amateurism is applied by the NCAA in the twenty-first century.
This article examines the actions of the NCAA from 1999 to 2006 in order to demonstrate how the NCAA developed a creative institutional strategy to alter its application of amateurism in response to pressures in the external environment that sought eased amateurism restrictions during the recruitment of prospective international athletes. This article argues that the NCAA utilized the SAR process to change its application of amateurism in order to grant prospective international athletes eligibility without risking the negative public relations and legal consequences that would have resulted from directly changing the definition of amateurism through deregulation. Beginning with a review of the factors that have historically influenced the NCAA’s application of amateurism, the article will then address the influence of international athletes on the NCAA’s contemporary application of amateurism. The factors that influenced the amateurism deregulation effort of the early 2000s are subsequently examined, and then an explanation is given for why Division I rejected any substantive changes to the stated definition of amateurism. The article concludes with a discussion of why the NCAA utilized the SAR process to change its application of amateurism.
Keywords: NCAA, Amateurism, International Student Athletes, Compliance, Reinstatement
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K20, K29, K30, K39, K40, K41, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation