The National Collegiate Athletic Association should amend Bylaw 15.1 and allow institutions to award athletic scholarship monies up to the institutionally set, estimated cost of attendance. NCAA Bylaw 15.1 limits an individual student-athlete’s athletic scholarships and other financial aid based on athletic ability to the value of a full grant-in-aid. The individual student-athlete scholarship limit is an arbitrary price cap and an unreasonable restraint of trade in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act because it prevents student-athletes from receiving financial aid up to the institutionally set, estimated cost of attendance, which includes the additional expenses an institution deems necessary to meet the cost of living at the school. Setting the permissible athletic scholarship limit at the institutionally set, estimated cost of attendance is a less restrictive alternative that still protects the pro-competitive virtues the NCAA has frequently proffered in support of its price cap. The NCAA has settled previous antitrust complaints brought by student-athletes alleging that athletic scholarship limits were unreasonable restraints of trade. And recently, the NCAA recognized that settlement was not enough to fulfill the NCAA’s educational mission and preserve the rights of student-athletes in Division I programs. But instead of retiring the deficient limit, the NCAA designated a new, arbitrary cap. However, the NCAA suspended implementation of this change so the Division I Board of Directors could reconsider the amendment. In reconsidering the amendment, and in light of the recent settlement in the White v. NCAA lawsuit, the NCAA should fully liberalize Bylaw 15.1 and allow institutions to award athletic scholarship monies up to the institutionally set, estimated cost of attendance. This is the only way to ensure that all future Division I student-athletes will not be financially disadvantaged even with the hard work these athletes perform for their institutions’ athletic programs; further, anything less is an unreasonable restraint of trade.
Christopher Davis Jr. & Dylan O. Malagrino,
The Myth of the "Full Ride": Cheating Our Collegiate Athletes and the Need for Additional NCAA Scholarship-Limit Reform,
Okla. L. Rev.