The NCAA on Notice: How Utilizing Principles of Federalism Could Relieve Antitrust Pressure

Grant Newton · 21 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 1091

Abstract

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was founded to protect athletes from injury and to provide an avenue for the pursuit of sport alongside the pursuit of education. The NCAA maintains that accomplishing each of those goals requires the preservation of amateurism through a cap on the amount of funds universities may disburse to athletes. Historically, value judgments saved the NCAA from antitrust challenges because courts found that the NCAA’s rules furthered the organization’s purpose. As antitrust law has developed over the past fifty years, however, courts have become increasingly determined to avoid value judgments in antitrust challenges. Thus, it is simply a matter of time before courts’ value judgments on amateurism will be unable to save the NCAA in antitrust challenges. The NCAA should respond by looking to principles of federalism in American governance. This Note explains how the NCAA could learn from federalism principles and delegate scholarship rulemaking authority to the individual conferences to relieve antitrust pressure.