General note: This is part of a series of topical discussions written for the public, with special attention to the sports media. Feedback from reporters are particularly welcome directly to Steve Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Research on Law and Policy Issues Related to Intercollegiate Sports
Professor Ross’ research has focused on the current issues affecting intercollegiate sports recently, resulting in a number of articles and presentations, which are collected for your convenience below.
- Radical Reform of Intercollegiate Athletics: Antitrust, Title IX, and Public Policy Implications, 86 Tulane L. Rev. 933 (2012), Ross proposes that universities operate with greater financial prudence by limiting men’s Division I sports to those that are financially self-sustaining, limiting women’s Division I sports to equal the scholarships for male athletes, operating other sports on a Division III basis, and cutting football costs by making the sport an “equivalency” sport where the coach can allocate 55 scholarships among the squad.
- A Regulatory Solution to Better Promote the Educational Values and Economic Sustainability of Intercollegiate Athletics, 92 U. Ore. L. Rev. 837 (2014), Ross and Matthew J. Mitten (Director of the Sports Law Institute at Marquette) propose that antitrust law is not an appropriate way to regulate commercial issues in big-time college sports, and promotes an antitrust immunity coupled with regulation to permit socially-worthy objectives.
- A Rapid Reaction to O’Bannon: The Need for Analytics in Applying the Sherman Act to Overly Restrictive Joint Venture Schemes, 119 Penn St. L. Rev. Penn Statim 43 (2015), Ross and Wayne S. DeSarbo, the Smeal Chair of Sports Marketing at Penn State’s business school, critique the trial court decision permitting big-time football programs to cap player compensation at $5,000/year in trust, and apply a well-regarding sports marketing analytics technique to answer the relevant antitrust question of how much college athletes can be paid without driving fans away from the distinctive nature of “college” sports.
- The Contested Values of College Sport: How Economists and Other Social Scientists Can Help Lawyers and Policymakers, is a presentation given by Prof. Ross at a conference on the Values of College Sports at the University of Michigan in November, 2014.
Institute Director Participates in Analysis of New Controversial Rules for European Soccer Clubs
The governing board for European soccer, UEFA, has recently promulgated “Financial Fair Play” rules for clubs seeking to participate in the lucrative Champions and Europa Leagues. Most controversial are requirements that clubs’ expenses match revenues over a three-year period, and even more controversially that subsidies from wealthy owners not be included in “football revenue” for purposes of the break-even requirement.
The rules are briefly summarized and introduced by Stefan Szymanski, a leading British sports economist who now teaches at the University of Michigan: http://www.soccernomics-agency.com/?p=464.
Institute Director Stephen Ross offers an American legal perspective: http://www.soccernomics-agency.com/?p=466, raising questions about what problems the FFP rules solve, but offering a less critical view about the non-economic “fairness” concerns about wealthy “sugar daddies” who subsidize certain clubs.
Stephen Weatherill, a leading European sports lawyer who teaches at the University of Oxford, offers his views:http://www.soccernomics-agency.com/?p=469.
Professors Ross and Weatherill exchange further views. View the discussion.
The general blog, sponsored by Professor Szymanski, offers readers an opportunity to comment.
Sports Law & Policy Institute Offers Analyses of NFL Labor Dispute
As NFL owners have locked out players, and players have gone to court to seek an injunction barring the lockout, the Institute offers two White Papers providing background on the issue. This website provides a number of resources for interested media, scholars, and members of the public.
Penn State Institute for Sports Law, Policy, Offers Analysis of Player Recruitment Scandal
“The whole process of recruitment of talented student-athletes by agents in the shadow of NCAA rules creates many opportunities for young men to be exploited by adults seeking their own financial gain and often leads to unwise decisions on agent selection at critical points in young careers,” said Stephen Ross, law professor at Penn State and one of the paper’s authors.
The analysis was co-authored with Raynell Brown, associate director of student services at Penn State Law and licensed National Basketball Players Association agent , and Penn State Law student Douglas Webster ’10.
Federal Judge Issues Injunction Blocking NFL Discipline in Positive-Drug Test Case
Empirical Research on Racial Bias in NBA Referree's Calls Sparks Debate
- Institute Director Stephen F. Ross offers a legal analysis of why the district judge in Minnesota ought to grant the requested anti-lockout injunction in Brady v. NFL. View the paper.
- Ross and Research Fellow Benjamin Woodworth offer an economic and policy analysis of the difficulties with reaching an agreement between the players and two discrete owner groups (high-revenue clubs and low-revenue clubs) and some proposed compromise solutions. View the paper.
- Two hotly-contested discussions among leading sports law professors review the major legal and policy issues; the first discussion focuses on the labor exemption and the second on the players’ decertification tactics.
- View the first discussion, which includes includes Roger I. Abrams (Professor of Law at Northeastern University and a prominent neutral arbitrator, including baseball salary arbitration), Gabriel Feldman (Professor of Law at Tulane University), Clark Griffith (former MLB Executive, Minor League Baseball Commissioner, and Adjunct Professor at Hamline College of Law), Gary Roberts (Dean and Professor at Indiana University School of Law — Indianapolis), and Steve Ross (Professor of Law at The Pennsylvania State University).
- View the second discussion, which includes Professor Abrams, Matthew Mitten (Professor of Law at Marquette University), and Professor Ross.
- The briefs filed by the parties in the district court proceedings in Brady can be found below.
- Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction
- NFL in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion
- Plaintiffs' Preliminary Injunction
- The district court opinion granting the players’ motion to enjoin the lockout can be found here.
- Opening Brief of Appellants
- Amicus Curiae Brief of National Hockey League
- Brief for Appellees
- Amicus Curiae Brief of the Sports Fans Coalition
- Amicus Curiae Brief of the MLB Players Association, NHL Players Association, and NBA Players Association
- Reply Brief of Appellants
- The case is currently pending in the 8th Circuit. The principal briefs in the case filed by the parties and leading amici curiae (including one from the Sports Fans Coalition by Institute Director Steve Ross) can be found below:
- The oral argument (featured two former Solicitors General, Theodore Olsen and Paul Clement) can be found at http://8cc-www.ca8.uscourts.gov/OAaudio/2011/6/111898.asx.
- “Exploiting Kids: The Scandal in Agent Recruiting of Athletically-Gifted Teens” details the conflicting pressures on O.J. Mayo, a young athlete of professional basketball promise who played collegiate basketball for one year before his NBA career. Published today on the Institute’s website, the analysis details the potential liability under state and federal law of individuals and organizations that may have exploited Mayo before and during his collegiate career. The authors suggest reforms to the NCAA Rules that would reduce exploitation of young athletes.
- Last year, Judge Paul Magnuson of the United States District Court in Minneapolis issued an injunction barring the NFL from disciplining five players who had tested positive for the diuretic bumetanide and who were suspended pursuant to the NFL's Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances. (The drug itself is not performance-enhancing, but has been found to mask the presence of performance-enhancing steroids). The court concluded that the balanced of equities favored the players because the NFL's own drug officials were aware that the over-the-counter supplement ingested by the players contained the banned substance, but failed to disclose this to the players, several of whom had called the NFL Hotline set up precisely for this purpose. The court further concluded that the NFL's chief lawyer, Jeffrey Pash, who decided the case as provided for in the labor agreement with the players' union, showed bias in adhering to a policy of strict liability for all positive drug tests.
This decision has far-reaching legal and policy implications.
Read the background paper.
Read Judge Magnuson's opinion.
Read the follow-up opinion of Professor Abrams.
- A recent New York Times article reported on a study by an economist and a graduate student that purported to find racial bias among NBA referees.
- Access the paper
- Read the discussion among prominent sports economists about the paper
- Additional commentary and subsequent developments can be found in the following two news stories: