Sports Law

Proposal Made to the Knight Commission Re Alternative Regulatory Scheme for College Sport

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics met in Washington, D.C. on May 19, 2015. Manatt’s Sports Law Practice Group Chair, Ron Katz, was invited to give a statement on alternative regulatory schemes for college sport. That Statement is linked here.

The Knight Commission, which is composed of college presidents and other luminaries, was formed in 1989, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation , to make recommendations to reform college sports. The founding co-chairmen were Theodore Hesburgh and William Friday, the then-presidents of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina, respectively. The Commission has published three reports: “Keeping Faith With the Student-Athlete: A New Model For Intercollegiate Athletics” (1991); “A Call to Action: Reconnecting College Sports and Higher Education,” (2001); and “Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values, and the Future of College Sports” (2010).

Katz basically makes six proposals: i) change the designation “student-athlete” to “student;” ii) require that all students be on track for a four-year graduation in order to play a sport; iii) require recipients of athletic scholarships to sign a contract committing to four years of study; iv) disallow redshirting; v) simplify the NCAA Bylaws; and vi) reserve the judging of NCAA rules infractions to independent retired judges. Katz goes on to state his belief that, by following these suggestions, which emphasize academics over athletics, the NCAA will fare much better in antitrust cases.

“It was an honor to appear before such a distinguished Commission,” said Katz. I was encouraged by their questions and responses.”

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