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A Regulatory Solution to Better Promote the Educational Values and Economic Sustainability of Intercollegiate Athletics

43 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2014 Last revised: 15 Jul 2014

Stephen F. Ross

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law

Matt Mitten

Marquette University - Law School

Date Written: June 24, 2014


Currently there are several pending antitrust suits challenging NCAA rules restricting the economic benefits intercollegiate athletes may receive for their sports participation. Although remedying the inherent problems of commercialized college sports (primarily Division I football and men’s basketball) is a laudable objective, a free market solution mandated by antitrust law may have unintended adverse consequences. Judicial invalidation of these rules may inhibit universities from providing many athletes with a college education they would not otherwise receive, by eliminating or reducing the value of scholarships for many players whose economic value is less than the cost of an education. A wholly "free market" for player talent will also severely limit universities’ ability to provide academic and athletic opportunities to thousands of women and men participating in nonrevenue sports, which are funded by surplus revenues from football and men’s basketball. Rather than professionalizing college sports through antitrust litigation or unionization, we propose an open and transparent system of federal regulation combined with antitrust immunity for reforms voluntarily adopted by the NCAA. To better promote the educational values and economic sustainability of intercollegiate athletics, our proposed Congressional intercollegiate athletics reform legislation would have three mandatory requirements: 1) at least a 4-year athletic scholarship with limited university termination rights; 2) medical care or health insurance for all sports-related injuries and scholarship extensions for injuries; and 3) elimination of the NCAA requirement that Division I universities operate at least 14 intercollegiate sports. It would create an independent commission to propose non-binding intercollegiate athletics regulations. NCAA and athletic conference conduct that complies with these regulations would receive antitrust immunity.

Keywords: sports law, NCAA, intercollegiate athletics, college sports, antitrust

Suggested Citation

Ross, Stephen F. and Mitten, Matt, A Regulatory Solution to Better Promote the Educational Values and Economic Sustainability of Intercollegiate Athletics (June 24, 2014). Oregon Law Review, Vol. 92, No. 4, 2014; Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 14-21; Penn State Law Research Paper No. 29-2014. Available at SSRN:

Stephen Ross

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Matthew Mitten (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

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

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