Larger Beyond Amateurism: The Rebranding of Major College Athletics

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Conference Track

Sport Marketing

Publication Date



In National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Board of Regents, University of Oklahoma et al., 468

U.S. 85 (1984), the Anti-trust action which ended tight NCAA regulation of televised college football, Mr. Justice Stevens set forth the juxtaposition of institutional commercialism and student-athlete amateurism, a compromise that has become uneasy over the last three decades:

The NCAA seeks to market a particular brand of football -- college football. The identification of this "product" with an academic tradition differentiates college football from and makes it more popular than professional sports to which it might otherwise be comparable …. In order to preserve the character and quality of the "product," athletes must not be paid, must be required to attend class, and the like.

Athletic Revenues and Expenses Soar

During the years since this decision, an arms race of aggressive revenue generation in major college athletics and the acceptance of escalating athletic costs have unfolded. On the strength of its own athletic television network, the University of Texas claimed the largest athletic revenues in the nation, $150.3 million for fiscal year 2011 (USA Today sports’ college athletics finances, 2012). At the macro level, the present television contract for the NCAA basketball tournament began in 2011 as a partnership between CBS and Turner Broadcasting Company. Concurrent with the expansion of the tournament to 68 games, the deal calls for CBS and Turner subsidiaries TBS, TNT, and TruTV to provide full coverage of all tournament games. The 14 year agreement is worth $10.8 billion, for an annual rights fee of $770 million. Broadcasting rights for the new college football playoff system are valued at $7.3 billion for 10 years, or $730 million a year (Strauss and Eder, 2014).

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Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License

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