Antitrust and collegiate athletics

Collegiate Amateur Athletics: Doomed to Fail?

This morning, we start off with yet another story against the institution of collegiate athletics, and it has to do with an upcoming antitrust case in New Jersey. Jeffrey Kessler, a prominent lawyer with a long, successful track record in sports antitrust law helping plaintiffs in professional sports associations (NBA, NFL, etc.) has begun representing college athletes. His belief that collegiate football and basketball are virtually indistinguishable from their professional counterparts, and that “it is both illegal and fundamentally unfair that the athletes don’t get any opportunity to share in what they’re generating for these businesses.” Kessler’s goal is to convince the court to “strike down as an illegal restraint on trade the restrictions that the NCAA and five member conferences collectively impose on what he views as the compensation of college athletes, in the form of their athletic scholarships.” A court striking down the restraint will open the door for college and universities to engage in even more bidding wars – and “end the amateur model of college sports.”

It’s an interesting way to look at it, but it’ll depend on whether a court will buy the NCAA’s historic argument that students are amateur students, not professional athletes. Facts and history indicate that the amateur model is falling at an alarming speed, and the only way to protect these athletes is to pay them. Kessler was quoted in saying that a settlement “could occur,” which may lead to further changes. The NCAA better have better arguments within its arsenal, as the “amateur student” model may be an antiquated notion that survived past its prime.

There is one more point that I find disturbingly fascinating – a potential legal loophole within Title IX. One argument the NCAA may promulgate is that paying college football and basketball players will run afoul of Title IX, as the act would require similar equitable compensation for women. Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sport management at Drexel University who has substantial experience in Title IX, says “i’t is feasible that if male basketball and football players were to be declared workers, they could be compensated without requiring female athletes who were still deemed students to receive equitable amounts.’ After all, she says, Title IX is about access to an education; under the law, ‘there is no worker calculation.'” Other scholars disagree. “If male college athletes are paid, and women college athletes are not paid, but they’re both still considered student-athletes, then it seems likely that Title IX is implicated,” said McCann, a professor of law at the University of New Hampshire and professor of law and director of its Sports and Entertainment Law Institute. I tend to side with McCann on this one. In addition, what would stop female collegiate athletes coming forward later as plaintiffs and alleging that the system caters only to collegiate male athletes, and that no or meager funds for females are provided? Even so – the NCAA better come up with some legitimate compromise, or the system will likely go out the window.

In related news, there’s an article depicting Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany speaking out against college athletes unionizing by saying that “students are students, not employees.” If you’ve heard the argument before, then reading the article will not reveal any innovative arguments in favor of maintaining the current NCAA model with some adjustments.

In Jamaican news, the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission admitted that it made grave errors in Veronica-Campbell Brown’s testing sample. Jamaican athletics suffers an additional embarrassment when it was discovered that chairman Lennox Gayle, “a member of the disciplinary panel which banned Asafa Powell for 18 months for a drug violation has been charged with running a prostitution ring on the Caribbean Island.” Prostitution at a massage parlor Gayle has supervisory authority over was discovered when several women were arrested “following a raid on the parlor.” Additional accusations against Gayle include “living off immoral earnings and misleading and deceptive conduct.” 

In Rio 2016 news, Rio De Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes still maintains that “there is no reason for concern,” and that the Olympics will be fully complete by the time the event will start. The Mayor increased the budget for the Games, and has begun “tendering works” for the Deodoro Complex – the building set to host a plethora of events, yet no work has started on it.

Nike and USATF extended their sponsorship agreement from 2017 to 2040Kazan, Russia will host the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships, and the International Olympic Committee is seriously considering bids for an Olympics in Africa.

Finally, you can watch a glimpse at the Boston Bombing Memorial. The exhibit is open to the public until May 11 of this year.

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