Article by: John Niemeyer
42 PEPP. L. REV. 883 (2015)
In the six years between 2006 and 2012, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a nonprofit organization made up of universities, doubled its net assets to its current, unprecedented level of over $566 million. In 2012 alone, the organization retained a $71 million surplus after it disbursed a majority of its revenue to the NCAA member universities. It was able to make this much money largely because of the television revenue earned from the highly popular and entertaining sports of men’s football and men’s basketball. One would think that if a nonprofit organization could retain $71 million at the end of the year, those who made this profit possible by taking the risk and wear and tear on their bodies would be taken care of. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to most, student-athletes are not fully compensated, as evidenced by the fact that the “full ride” scholarships that student-athletes receive do not cover the full cost of attending universities. The coaches of these student-athletes, however, are well taken care of, with many earning millions of dollars each year.
With all this money floating around benefitting the universities, it is no wonder that NCAA student-athletes admit to taking money and other forms of compensation from boosters to get by while in college. Student-athletes for competitive football and basketball teams in the NCAA have a demanding schedule of classes, practice, training, traveling, and games, with no spare time to work a part-time job to pay for the expenses that their scholarships do not cover. Despite the injustices against student-athletes, the NCAA claims that its focus is on students and that its student-athletes must be amateurs to protect them “from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.” But who is protecting the student-athletes from the NCAA and the monopoly it has created? The NCAA has successfully defended its rules in the past, but recent litigation and growing public and player sentiment of resentment against the NCAA should compel the NCAA to take a hard and fast look at its amateurism rules and the reasoning behind them.
This Comment analyzes the recent lawsuits against the NCAA regarding its rules on amateurism and addresses how the NCAA has begun to come into compliance with the O’Bannon ruling by changing its bylaws to allow certain universities to give student-athletes stipends up to the full cost-of-attendance and recommending that the universities create a trust that student-athletes can access after they finish university, as well as allowing student-athletes to individually seek marketing opportunities.