Train Wreck (of the I-AA)

Train Wreck (of the I-AA)

John R. Maney · 14 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 279

Abstract

In  2009, the Knight Commission, which addresses major problems facing intercollegiate athletics, polled the presidents of the  Football Bowl Subdivision schools (I-A schools) about their views on  the state of financial affairs in college athletics. Less than 25 percent of  those polled thought intercollegiate athletics was sustainable in its  present form. As a result, the Commission recommended a series of  reforms to help maintain the health of collegiate athletics.   Unfortunately, the Commission did not poll the presidents of Football  Championship Subdivision schools (I-AA schools). They should have  polled those presidents because the I-AA schools’ fiscal health is worse.   In 2010, only five I-AA schools had minimal profits in football as  compared to the large profits of sixty-nine I-A schools. Football is the  largest moneymaking sport in college athletics and, unlike basketball,  I-AA schools have unfairly been prevented from competing for, and  playing in, the Division’s highest national championship and in  its  elite postseason bowls. I-AA schools are also excluded from the  conferences with billion-dollar TV contracts that distribute millions to  I-A schools. To correct these inequities, this Article argues that the  National College Athletic Association (NCAA) should adhere to its  constitutional principle of competitive equity and should amend its  bylaws to eliminate the I-A/I-AA distinction. If self-reform is not  possible, this Article argues that Congress should amend the antitrust laws and scrutinize the tax law  covering non-profit organizations.  If  neither the NCAA nor Congress is willing to provide relief, I-AA  presidents should follow the recent lead of the National Basketball  Association players and seek antitrust relief through the courts.