The NCAA and Religion: Insights About Non-State Governance from Sunday Play and End Zone Celebrations

18 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2010


This Essay addresses the topic of religion and non-state governance in a somewhat uncommon way, by considering not how religious groups act as non-state governance entities, but rather, how non-state governance actors address religious issues within their jurisdictional spheres. It does so using the experience of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The Essay describes the NCAA, establishing its bona-fides as a non-state governance entity. It then examines two situations in which the NCAA has addressed religious issues in the past fifteen years - one involving Sunday play for religiously affiliated universities, and the other involving an effort to penalize prayer celebrations in football games. Finally, the Essay offers a few tentative insights from the NCAA’s experience with religion, concerning the manner in which non-state governance entities do (and should be allowed to) address religious liberty issues.

Keywords: Non-state governance, religious liberty, sports law, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), BYU rule, Sunday play, football, end zone celebrations, NCAA v. Tarkanian, World Bank, Pehuenche indigenous people, Chile, human rights

Suggested Citation

Worthen, Kevin J., The NCAA and Religion: Insights About Non-State Governance from Sunday Play and End Zone Celebrations. Utah Law Review, Vol. 2010, pp. 123-140, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Kevin J. Worthen (Contact Author)

BYU Law School ( email )

D-364 ASB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

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