The Supreme Court and the NCAA

The Case for Less Commercialism and More Due Process in College Sports
Brian L. Porto


Two Supreme Court decisions, NCAA v. Board of Regents (1984) and NCAA v. Tarkanian (1988), have shaped college sports by permitting the emergence of a supercharged commercial enterprise with high financial stakes for institutions and individuals, while failing to guarantee adequate procedural protections for persons charged with wrongdoing within that enterprise. Brian L. Porto examines the conditions that led to the cases, the reasoning behind the justices' rulings, and the consequences of those rulings.

Arguing that commercialized college sports should be compatible with the goals of higher education and fair to all participants, Porto suggests that the remedy is a federal statute. His proposed College Sports Legal Reform Act would grant the NCAA a limited "educational exemption" from the antitrust laws, enabling it to enhance academic opportunities for athletes. The Act would also afford greater procedural protections to accused parties in NCAA disciplinary proceedings. Porto's prescription for reform in college sports makes a significant contribution to the debate about how best to address perennial problems in college sports such as cost containment, access to a meaningful education for athletes, and fairness in rule enforcement.

"... very well written, very thought provoking … Porto has done a terrific job of articulating that the Supreme Court's Board of Regents decision in 1984 greatly accelerated the commercialization of major college football."
—Gary R. Roberts, Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis

"This is an important book and one that addresses issues in college sports that are timely and of current interest to lawyers, higher education administrators, public policymakers, and faculty members in a number of disciplines, most specifically sport law and sport management."
—Ellen J. Staurowsky, Drexel University

"If you want to know how important Supreme Court cases affect intercollegiate athletics, read Porto's book. You will see a new legislative approach to reforming college athletics as the NCAA searches for academic integrity."
—Ronald A. Smith, Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University

Brian Porto is Professor of Law at Vermont Law School and a lawyer in private practice.

Praise / Awards

  • "An excellent book."
    The Sport Digest
  • "Porto's suggestions for improvement (e.g., revamping NCAA enforcement procedures and applying the administrative model to the NCAA) are persuasive." 
    —D. Yalof, Choice

Look Inside

News, Reviews, Interviews

Listen | Interview on NPR's Only a Game | 2/18/2012

Product Details

  • 264 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02809-2

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  • Due Process, College Sports, Student Athletes, United States Supreme Court, NCAA, Sherman Antitrust Act, Law, College Football, Higher education, Antitrust laws, NCAA v. Board of Regents (1984), NCAA v. Tarkanian (1988)