Distributive Injustice: An Ethical Analysis of the NCAA's 'Collegiate Model of Athletics' and Its Jurisprudence

Int Sports Law J (2016) 15: 210-225

18 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2016

See all articles by Richard Southall

Richard Southall

University of South Carolina

Richard T. Karcher

Eastern Michigan University

Date Written: January 1, 2016


The NCAA's purported philosophical justifications for its "Collegiate Model of Athletics" are embedded within its seven stated "Core Values" and "Principles", which are based on a distribution principle of strict, or radical, equality in which it is believed societal benefit or the "greater good" is achieved if universities can lawfully conspire to compensate all athletes at the same level. From this theoretical perspective, the authors scrutinize two ethical frameworks most often asserted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to justify exploitation of profit-athletes in the revenue-generating sports of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football and Division I men's basketball: Classical Utilitarianism and Paternalism. From an analysis of several court rulings over the past 40 years involving challenges to the NCAA's "amateurism" principles, the authors found, in rulings favoring the NCAA, the judges implicitly supported their decisions utilizing the NCAA's utilitarian and paternalistic justifications for its Collegiate Model of Athletics. They recommend courts should balance considerations of utilitarianism and paternalism against normative principles of honesty, harm, autonomy, justice, and an adult individual's fundamental right to maximize economic value and self-worth free of conspiratorial restraints.

Keywords: NCAA, Ethics, Utilitarianism, Paternalism

Suggested Citation

Southall, Richard and Karcher, Richard T., Distributive Injustice: An Ethical Analysis of the NCAA's 'Collegiate Model of Athletics' and Its Jurisprudence (January 1, 2016). Int Sports Law J (2016) 15: 210-225, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2721305

Richard Southall

University of South Carolina ( email )

701 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Richard T. Karcher (Contact Author)

Eastern Michigan University ( email )

318 Porter Building
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
United States
(734) 487-9134 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics