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Copyright (c) 2005 North Carolina Law Review
North Carolina Law Review

RECENT DEVELOPMENT: Slam Dunk: The Case for an NCAA Antitrust Exemption

January, 2005

83 N.C.L. Rev. 555


Adam R. Schaefer


In July 2003, a United States District Court in Ohio ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) violated section 1 of the Sherman Act 1 by limiting the number of appearances by its members in "certified" basketball tournaments. 2 In Worldwide Basketball and Sports Tours, Inc. v. NCAA, 3 the court held that by restricting member institutions to two certified tournaments every four years, the NCAA's rule had a "substantially adverse effect on competition." 4 As a result, the court issued a permanent injunction, barring the NCAA from ever enforcing the rule. 5

The decision in Worldwide Basketball was the latest in a pattern of federal court rulings that have a stifling effect on the NCAA in fulfilling its mission. 6 The legislation in debate in the Worldwide Basketball case was designed to limit the number of basketball games in a season "out of concern for student welfare, and [to give] lesser-known schools more opportunities to play in desirable tournaments." 7 In previous cases, courts have found the NCAA in violation of antitrust laws in regulating the salary of assistant basketball coaches 8 and the number of television appearances that a university can make during football season. 9

During the twenty years since the Supreme Court last weighed in on the NCAA and antitrust, college athletics has taken a sharp turn away from its roots. Today, big-time college athletics is considered its own industry. 10 As the financial stake has been increased, ...
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