Touchdowns, Toddlers, and Taboos: On Paying College Athletes and Surrogate Contract Mothers

66 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2014

See all articles by Sharon E. Rush

Sharon E. Rush

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: 1989


Cris Carter, a wide receiver and Reisman Trophy candidate, became ineligible to play football while attending Ohio State University. His college football career ended early because he violated National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules that prohibit an NCAA athlete from signing with a professional sports agent prior to the expiration of the athlete's eligibility status. Carter signed with agents during his sophomore year, in return for which he received a $5,000 interest free loan and monthly payments of $1,800.

In a completely different and yet surprisingly analogous arena, two years ago, Mrs. Whitehead and Mr. Stem entered into a surrogate contract in which Mrs. Whitehead agreed to bear a child for Mr. Stem. In return, Mr. Stem agreed to pay Mrs. Whitehead's medical expenses and a $10,000 fee. Upon the baby's birth, Mrs. Whitehead reneged on her agreement, and Mr. Stem sought legal enforcement of the contract.

NCAA athletes and mothers, despite their differences, have much in common. Historically, society has channelled both the amateur athlete and the mother into fulfilling similar images. Both must be pure, selfless, and devoted individuals. To maintain these images, society needed to impose strict regulations on both college athletes and mothers. Over the years, one of the most important restrictions on amateur athletes and mothers has been the absence of monetary reward for their performances or services. Paying them would spoil their images and perhaps much more. Indeed, maintaining their images was, and is still believed to be essential to the continued existence of higher education and the traditional family, respectively.

Situations such as Chris Carter's and Mrs. Whitehead's arouse concern over both NCAA regulation of collegiate athletics and state regulation of surrogate contracts. Central· to both concerns is an overriding question: Should college athletes and surrogate contract mothers be paid? Recent legislation in both areas suggests a reluctance to let go of the historical images. For example, Alabama recently passed a law that prohibits professional sports agents from even visiting potential recruits on campus without first registering with a state athletic regulatory commission. Similarly, while many state legislatures do not seem to be moving to outlaw surrogate contracts altogether, the predominant debate among legislators seems to focus on the question whether a woman can be paid a fee for agreeing to bear a child pursuant to such a contract. Recently, Representatives Boxer and Hyde proposed federal legislation to make unlawful surrogate contracts in which fees are allowed.

The principal purpose of this article is to reach an understanding of the need to dissociate collegiate athletics and motherhood from money, and not to decide the specific issue of whether college athletes or surrogate contract mothers should or should not be paid. The article suggests, rather, that NCAA rules and regulations, as well as recent legislation and judicial decisions on surrogate contracting, effectively serve to reinforce many people's expectations that college athletes and women act to reflect values consistent with their roles. Just as our expectations about women and motherhood generally promote stereotypical views of women, because most college athletes are minorities, adherence to traditional views about college athletes also perpetuates racism. Thus, a comparative analysis of collegiate athletics and motherhood brings a new perspective to the relationships between colleges and athletes, society and minorities, and society and women.

Keywords: NCAA regulations, sports law, college athletes, sports salaries, racism, minorities, gender stereotypes, women, motherhood, surrogacy, surrogate contracts, autonomy, reproductive freedom, racial equality, sex equality

JEL Classification: K1, K10, J13, J15, J16, J7, J70, Z00

Suggested Citation

Rush, Sharon E., Touchdowns, Toddlers, and Taboos: On Paying College Athletes and Surrogate Contract Mothers (1989). Arizona Law Review, Vol. 31, No. 5, 1989, Available at SSRN:

Sharon E. Rush (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States

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