Justice Nears for Ivy League Athletes as Unjust Antitrust Exemption Expires

The expiring exemption has harmed many athletes from low to middle-class homes forced to take out student loans or overextend their family’s resources to attend Ivy League schools while their peers at other colleges earn athletic scholarships to cover costs.

September 30, 2022

The National College Players Association (NCPA) is declaring victory for college athletes as September 30th marks the last day of an unjust antitrust exemption granted by Congress to Ivy League universities. Since 1994, Ivy League universities wielded this undeserved special treatment by agreeing to impose a prohibition on all athletic scholarships.

This exemption harms many athletes from low to middle-class homes who are forced to take out student loans or overextend their family’s resources to attend Ivy League schools while their peers at other colleges earn athletic scholarships to cover costs. For other athletes, including many Black athletes, it means being priced out of attending prestigious Ivy League universities while these universities’ endowments explode well into the billions and tens of billions of dollars. The exemption causes harm to college athletes’ financial, academic, and athletic opportunities.

University of Pennsylvania basketball player Lucas Monroe stated, “I live in one of the cheapest off campus houses in the area. I almost got evicted because I couldn’t pay rent. I don’t know of any scholarship athletes that would get evicted because expenses like housing are paid for.”

Tianhao Wei, a men’s track athlete who transferred from Columbia University to the University of Michigan stated, “Scholarships could change the whole atmosphere of Ivy League athletics in terms of building and maintaining strong programs and attracting better talent (athletes and coaches). Because of the lack of athletic scholarships at Columbia, I decided to look elsewhere to better myself athletically despite the outstanding education I could have received. I left Columbia with a 4.11 GPA. I believe that with the implementation of athletic scholarships, my experience at Columbia no doubt would have been dramatically better.”

Columbia University women’s track athlete Julia Jordahl-Henry stated, “Many of us are desperate for financial relief. Every Ivy League athlete and recruit needs to know if our schools are going to begin offering athletic scholarships. We need to know if we can stop taking out student loans and working part-time jobs. We deserve to have the same opportunity as our athletic peers to have our financial burden lifted.”

Former Brown University basketball men’s player T Choh said, “Athletic scholarships would open the IvyLeague experience to more low and middle-income families who might not have the money to pay for tuition and other expenses during the school year. Without athletic scholarships, elite college athletes are still forced to attend other universities that do not have the same life changing opportunities as the Ivy League schools because of monetary reasons.”

“It’s time for Ivy League universities to head in a new direction, one where they respect their athletes’ rights and freedoms under the law. We are grateful that this Congress has not renewed this exemption.” stated NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma.

Huma, who was an advisor to the O’Bannon v. NCAA antitrust lawsuit, points out that federal courts struck down a previous NCAA’s rule preventing colleges from providing athletic scholarships that cover the full cost of attendance. Ivy League schools maintain a collusive, glaring, and unnecessary restraint of trade by agreeing to impose a complete ban on any athletic scholarships. After today, such agreements will be subject to antitrust law.