The Illusion of Amateurism: A Climate of Tortious Interference in the World of Amateur Sports

When a player-agent pays an NCAA-eligible player in violation of NCAA regulations, the agent usually suffers no consequences. Instead, players and the universities they attend are sanctioned, often harshly. Attempts to find a solution to this problem--NCAA regulations, regulations of professional players associations, and state and federal legislation--have thus far been unsuccessful. There is a potential remedy, however: the tortious interference with contractual relations claim. When a gifted student-athlete decides to attend and play a sport at an NCAA-member university, the student-athlete typically receives a scholarship offer from the school and signs a National Letter of Intent. This Comment establishes that these documents together create a binding contractual relationship between the university and student-athlete. Thus, this Comment concludes, by dealing with a student-athlete in a manner that causes the student-athlete to violate his or her contractual obligation to follow NCAA regulations, the agent improperly interferes with this contractual relationship, opening the agent up to liability to the university for tortious interference with contractual relations. Finally, this Comment analyzes why universities largely have not yet taken advantage of this promising claim.