Date of Award
Jan Kregel, Ph.D.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which is the primary governing board for intercollegiate athletics in the United States, has been widely criticized for making huge amounts of money off of the hard work and labor of college student-athletes without paying fair compensation to those student-athletes. The NCAA’s revenue has consistently increased over the past century—however, it was not until the 1980s that the NCAA evolved into a multi billion-dollar organization. Despite the billions of dollars in revenue that its student-athletes generate on an annual basis, the NCAA has refused to share the revenue with those student athletes on the ground that doing so would compromise the “notion of amateurism” upon which intercollegiate athletics purportedly is based. However, there is nothing “amateur” about 18- to 22-year-old men and women spending long hours training, practicing, and competing in their sport everyday like it is their job, being expected to “win at all costs,” and generating billions of dollars for the NCAA and their schools through ticket sales, television broadcasts, advertising, apparel, etc. The sad reality is that the NCAA’s governing board consists almost entirely of “older white men” who are not necessarily even interested in sports, whereas a majority of the student-athletes who participate in the sports that generate most of the NCAA’s revenue (i.e., Division I football and men’s basketball) are black and, in many cases, poor (see NCAA Consolidated Financial Statements; NCAA Demographics).1 For this reason, the NCAA’s worst
critics have labeled the organization’s policies as racist and exploitive of student-athletes, and even compared the NCAA’s regulation of intercollegiate athletics to “modern-day slavery” (see NCAA Consolidated Financial Statements; NCAA Demographics). This paper discusses how the NCAA acts as a monopoly corporation over intercollegiate athletics and exhibits characteristics—and challenges—similar to a modern-day cartel. It argues that the NCAA’s commercialization of intercollegiate athletics has made the notion of amateurism in intercollegiate athletics a myth and that the NCAA’s refusal to pay a fair wage to its student athletes is hypocritical and exploitive. Finally, the paper discusses the benefits of “fair pay to play” for student-athletes and how social media have contributed not only to the commercialization of intercollegiate athletics, but also, to high school student-athletes’ increased awareness of employment opportunities outside of the NCAA, thereby generating more market competition for the NCAA.
Miller, Wynn, "Fair Pay to Play The NCAA ‘Cartel’" (2020). Theses - Graduate Programs in Economic Theory and Policy. 27.