the BigAmateurism monologues

A series of events over the last 18 months—some unforeseeable—have created a perfect storm that will change college sports forever. The NCAA's bait an…
Apr 13th, 2021 | 1:02:36

14: The “Prisoner’s Dilemma” (Part II)

Since 2010, the Power 5 has solidified its complete market domination of BigAmateurism and sowed the seeds of a breath-taking bull market in college sports history. This era saw the rise of the Power 5 commissioners and the decline of college presidents as leadership figures in intercollegiate athletics. The Power 5 expanded its market presence and profitability through the College Football Playoff, Inc., creating conference networks, and enhanced regular-season TV packages. The Power 5 schools engage in reckless spending on facilities, coaches’ salaries, athletics administrative overhead, and expansion of sports teams. In March 2020, when COVID brought the most robust bull market in college sports history to an abrupt halt, the cracks in the foundation of BigAmateurism’s business model and historical tensions between the NCAA and big-time football and within the Power 5 conferences revealed themselves yet again. COVID changed the dynamics of the NCAA’s/Power 5’s campaign in the Senate and in the Alston suit for absolute control of the Iron Throne of college sports regulation. The January 5th special elections in Georgia undermined the NCAA’s/Power 5’s advantage in a Republican-controlled Senate and caused the NCAA to suspend indefinitely its claimed commitment to voluntary name, image, and likeness rules changes. The NCAA and Power 5 chose to pull back on their Senate campaign for antitrust immunity, federal preemption of state laws that conflicted with and superseded NCAA amateurism-based compensation limits, and a prohibition on college athletes being deemed employees of their university. Instead, they chose to wait on the outcome of the Alston case in the US Supreme Court. At oral argument on March 31st, the Supreme Court expressed hostility to the NCAA’s amateurism-based justifications for its compensation limits on athletes. These changed circumstances may have fundamentally changed the incentives in the NCAA/Power 5 prisoner’s dilemma.