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Commercialized Intercollegiate Athletics: A Proposal for Targeted Reform Consistent with American Cultural Forces and Marketplace Realities

Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, Vol. 2, pp. 202-232, 2009

Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 09-39

32 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2009  

Matt Mitten

Marquette University - Law School

James L. Musselman

South Texas College of Law Houston

Bruce Burton

Charlotte School of Law

Date Written: December 14, 2009

Abstract

This article observes that American society’s passion for intercollegiate sports competition is an extremely powerful, naturally evolved cultural force. The marketplace responds to cultural forces, and the commercialization of college sports directly reflects the marketplace realities of our society. For example, colleges and universities rationally use their intercollegiate athletic programs, particularly NCAA Division 1 FBS football and basketball, as a means to achieve a wide range of legitimate objectives of higher education. Thus, the authors advocate that university athletic department revenues should continue to be exempt from federal taxation, specifically the unrelated business income tax (UBIT), despite the increasingly commercialized nature of intercollegiate sports. However, the commercialization of intercollegiate athletics creates the potential for conflict with a university’s academic mission and the risk that student-athletes may be exploited. The authors propose that Congress provide the NCAA and its member universities with a limited exemption from the federal antitrust laws conditioned upon targeted reforms that will 1) ensure that intercollegiate athletics are primarily an educational endeavor; 2) better enable student-athletes in revenue-generating sports to obtain the benefit of their bargain; and 3) protect and maintain student-athletes’ intercollegiate athletics participation opportunities in nonrevenue generating sports.

Keywords: sports, intercollegiate sports, NCAA, athletic department, intercollegiate athletics

JEL Classification: K29, K49

Suggested Citation

Mitten, Matt and Musselman, James L. and Burton, Bruce, Commercialized Intercollegiate Athletics: A Proposal for Targeted Reform Consistent with American Cultural Forces and Marketplace Realities (December 14, 2009). Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, Vol. 2, pp. 202-232, 2009; Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 09-39. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1523301

Matthew J. Mitten (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

James L. Musselman

South Texas College of Law Houston ( email )

1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
United States

Bruce Burton

Charlotte School of Law ( email )

201 South College Street
Suite 400
Charlotte, NC 28244
United States

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