Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law


John R. Maney

First Page



In 2009, the Knight Commission, which addresses major problems facing intercollegiate athletics, polled the presidents of the Football Bowl Subdivision schools (I-A schools) about their views on the state of financial affairs in college athletics. Less than 25 percent of those polled thought intercollegiate athletics was sustainable in its present form. As a result, the Commission recommended a series of reforms to help maintain the health of collegiate athletics. Unfortunately, the Commission did not poll the presidents of Football Championship Subdivision schools (I-AA schools). They should have polled those presidents because the I-AA schools' fiscal health is worse. In 2010, only five I-AA schools had minimal profits in football as compared to the large profits of sixty-nine I-A schools. Football is the largest moneymaking sport in college athletics and, unlike basketball, I-AA schools have unfairly been prevented from competing for, and playing in, the Division's highest national championship and in its elite postseason bowls. I-AA schools are also excluded from the conferences with billion-dollar TV contracts that distribute millions to I-A schools. To correct these inequities, this Article argues that the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) should adhere to its constitutional principle of competitive equity and should amend its bylaws to eliminate the I-A/I-AA distinction. If self-reform is not possible, this Article argues that Congress should amend the antitrust laws and scrutinize the tax law covering non-profit organizations. If neither the NCAA nor Congress is willing to provide relief, I-AA presidents should follow the recent lead of the National Basketball Association players and seek antitrust relief through the courts.