Antitrust Law and the Future of the NCAA’s Amateurism Rules

College sports are a multi-billion dollar industry. The best college football head coaches, like their National Football League counterparts, pull in millions of dollars a year in guaranteed salaries. Meanwhile, the college athletes they coach are paid nothing. Under National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) “amateurism” rules, college teams are only allowed to compensate their athletes with scholarships that cover the costs of attending school. Federal antitrust law has historically okayed this practice, even though the NCAA rules “fixing” athletes’ compensation at the cost of attendance would seem to amount to a restraint on competition in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The NCAA has long argued that its amateurism rules are both necessary and procompetitive. In 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the NCAA. But in 2015 a federal appellate court clarified that the NCAA’s amateurism rules are not immune from Sherman Act…

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