Vol. LIV No. 3

Not Quite Filling The Gap: Why the Miscellaneous Expense Allowance Leaves the NCAA Vulnerable to Antitrust Litigation

Abstract: Throughout its history, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been repeatedly accused of violating antitrust law in a range of different ways—restricting television broadcasts, limiting coaches’ salaries, and capping the amount of athletic scholarships. Most recently, in the case of White v. NCAA, a class of plaintiffs argued that the NCAA’s artificial limitation on student-athlete compensation violated antitrust law. Although this case settled before trial, it represented a major victory for student-athletes. The NCAA is now considering a proposal— the Miscellaneous Expense Allowance (“MEA”)—that would raise the NCAA’s artificial cap on athletics-related financial aid by $2000. This legislation is partially aimed at protecting the NCAA from further antitrust liability, but it does not quite fill the gap. After providing a brief history of college athletics and student-athlete compensation, this Note then examines the mechanics of antitrust law and how courts have applied antitrust law in the context of the NCAA. This Note then argues that a hypothetical class of student-athletes could still bring a viable antitrust claim against the NCAA, even if the MEA is passed. Subsequently, this Note analyzes the arguments on both sides that would arise in such a hypothetical lawsuit.

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