“Since its inception, the NCAA’s mission has rested on the bedrock principle of amateurism,” writes Goldberg Segalla’s Joseph M. Hanna. “Although the principle of amateurism remains central to our understanding of college athletics as well as to NCAA policies, recent events may signal the need for change.”
Joe’s focus is the September 26, 2017 arrest of “10 high-profile individuals with significant connections to college athletics,” and what Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim has characterized as “concerted efforts by the FBI and federal prosecutors to investigate ‘the dark underbelly of college basketball.'”
In an article for DRI’s For the Defense, Joe — chair of the firm’s Sports and Entertainment Practice Group and a nationally recognized authority on numerous sports-related legal issues — trains a critical eye on the ongoing and multifaceted NCAA bribery scandal and its practical effects on everyone from college administrators and sports apparel and sneaker marketing executives to student-athletes.
“The popular narrative that is likely to circulate throughout this fallout is that the investigation signals the end of amateurism in college athletics as we know it,” Joe writes. While “all options are currently on the table,” the NCAA has yet to take significant corrective action. Instead, it formed a “Commission on College Basketball,” chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and charged it with a threefold mission that encompasses promoting legitimate financial and career-planning resources for student-athletes; critically examining the NCAA’s relationship with the NBA, and in particular the “one and done” college enrollment rule; and evaluating the NCAA’s existing enforcement program. The commission is to deliver its results in April 2018.
“While there are many routes that this epidemic can travel, the one certainty seems to be that any change will be incremental rather than immediate,” Joe writes. “Changes in the NCAA are on the horizon, and this may be an opportunity to reconsider the principles of college athletics. These new allegations will keep the amateurism discussion relevant, but it is unlikely that any drastic changes to the NCAA model will happen in the near future.”