The Downside of Success: How Increased Commercialism Could Cost the NCAA Its Biggest Antitrust Defense

This Comment examines how the evolution of the NCAA, from an organization designed to promote fair competition and integrate intercollegiate sports into higher education, to a tax-exempt entity with annual revenues of over $500 million, could affect its favored antitrust status by the courts. The Comment first discusses how the NCAA has evolved over time. The author then examines how courts struggled to evaluate the organization's antitrust liability, given its role in promoting amateurism, and how a Supreme Court loss ultimately helped shield the NCAA from antitrust liability in its dealings with student-athletes by accepting the preservation of amateurism as a pro-competitive benefit. With this framework in mind, the Comment examines a recently filed antitrust challenge brought by former student-athletes with the potential to penetrate the NCAA's defense and the merits of the lawsuit's approach. Finally, the Article discusses potential less restrictive alternatives the NCAA may choose to implement to avoid this potentially anticompetitive behavior while maintaining amateurism.