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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Whither Division III?

A current and a former basketball player at Brown filed a class action  suit, challenging the Ivy League's agreement/policy not to award athletic scholarships as an antitrust violation.

To our readers with antitrust knowledge: If successful, how does this not eliminate the NCAA's Division III, comprised of smaller, mostly private, heavily liberal-arts college and which prohibits athletic scholarships? If a conference-wide policy against scholarships violates the law, how can a nationwide policy not violate the law?

Comments open.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 14, 2023 at 07:02 AM in Howard Wasserman, Sports | Permalink


The complaint is explicitly premised on the assertion that D-I sports are “big business.” Against that backdrop, the complaint then alleges the Ivy League schools agreed not to compete against one another in offering scholarships. If the suit succeeds, I don’t see why a court couldn’t find that D-III sports are *not* big business. Schools that in effect agree not to offer scholarships for D-III sports don’t do so to avoid a competitive spiral in which each would be driven to outbid others. They do so to preserve fairness in an environment in which, were they permitted, only a few scholarships would be offered anyway. The upshot would not be that most players would have scholarships: it would be that the presence of a handful of players with scholarships would throw off the athletic competitive balance for everyone else. It’s easy for me to imagine a court might conclude preventing that result is not an antitrust problem.

Posted by: RQP | Mar 14, 2023 5:07:01 PM

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