NCAA Sanctions: Assigning Blame Where it Belongs

35 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2011

See all articles by Maureen A. Weston

Maureen A. Weston

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law

Date Written: 2011


Success in a major intercollegiate athletic program, particularly a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I national championship, can translate into millions of dollars and immense pride for the players, coaches, alumni, fans, and university. It can also be a determinative factor in a highly recruited high school student-athlete’s program selection decision. In this intensely competitive environment, temptations to cheat, exploit, or circumvent the rules lurk, not only for agents, but also for institutional personnel, certain student-athletes, boosters, and even parents. Acting on behalf of over 1200 member institutions, the NCAA regulates and enforces rules of amateurism in college. In recent cases involving high-profile student-athletes and programs found to have engaged in cheating and major infractions of NCAA rules on amateurism, agents, and extra-benefits to players, the NCAA imposed stringent sanctions, including bans on postseason competition, against member institutions and the offending athletic programs. This Article analyzes the effectiveness of these sanctions on the offending programs, actual wrongdoers, and student-athletes most impacted by sanctions. The Article asserts that the sanctions’ reach is both overly limited and overly broad. NCAA sanction powers are narrow in that they extend only to member institutions, not to individual coaches, players, agents, boosters, or other involved individuals. The sanctions are broad in that they negatively impact current student-athletes, who are restricted in their ability to transfer without penalty. The Article makes proposals for holding coaches and institutions financially accountable for infractions, while protecting uninvolved student-athletes.

Keywords: NCAA, sports, college, football, basketball, athlete, student, sanctions, coach, athletic, player, agent, booster, amateur, university, financial, penalty, bowl, cheat

Suggested Citation

Weston, Maureen A, NCAA Sanctions: Assigning Blame Where it Belongs (2011). Boston College Law Review, Vol. 52, 2011, Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011/3, Available at SSRN:

Maureen A Weston (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States

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