June 17, 2014

Nick Novy, Villanova University Law School student, was recently selected for publication in Tulane Law School’s The Sport Lawyer’s Journal.

“The Emperor Has No Clothes”: The NCCA’s Last Chance as the Middle Man in College Athletics

The NCAA has long capitalized on its ability to impose amateurism on collegiate athletes by claiming their status as amateurs is for the player’s own protection from outsider commercial enterprises.  Meanwhile, the NCAA and its partners rake in over ten billion dollars in profit annually, without compensating the labor-producing athletes a dime.  The NCAA’s “Best Business Model in World” hinges on this justification and it is soon to be challenged in federal court.

This article proposes that the NCAA should amend its bylaws to allow players to recognize a partial value of what their image and likeness generates through a compromised endorsement deal.  The players would therefore be ‘endorsing’ their specific teams on the field, and in turn, would recognize an allocable portion of profits generated from any third-party corporate sponsorship with that team (Under Armor, CBS, E.A. Sports, etc.).  Endorsement deals do not customarily amount to “employment,” thus additional employment related issues, such as strikes and workers compensation, would not be implicated.  Allowing athletes to recognize an apportioned amount of what their image generates would further improve the quality of the game by encouraging students to stay in school, diminish the demand for illegal recruiting, and improve the quality of consumer products–jerseys, t-shirts, and video games could then bear the name and likeness of the college athlete (legally).

While the compromise would cut into the NCAA’s annual profit margin, a federal court is on the brink of a possibly debilitating landmark payday to former athlete’s whose image and likeness have been appropriated–even after their playing days.  A compromise may be the only way for the NCAA to ensure that it remains the governing body of collegiate athletics.

21 Sports Law. J. 227

For a full version of the article click here.

Disclaimer: This article belongs to The Sport Lawyer’s Journal (“Journal”). The Journal has given the Author expressed permission to publish on this site. Please contact the Journal for additional information about this article or for republishing rights.


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