Yet the NCAA plantation remains very much intact, even as it faces another challenge
to its restraint, albeit a limited one, in the Alston v. NCAA case.
In defense of its hegemony over college athletics, the NCAA’s amateurism model benefits from a cabal
of acolytes, comprised of coaches, athletic administrators, sports writers, commentators, and reporters who
profit from and thus routinely offer glowingly self-serving assessments of the status quo. The NCAA has
also availed itself of various opportunities, including the annual basketball “March Madness” tournament
to publish its own propaganda. Its “A Day in the Life of Student-Athlete” commercial that aired during the
2019 NCAA tournament received widespread derision from former college athletes, who commented that
their own experiences bore no resemblance to the Potemkin village that the NCAA portrayed to sports
While the NCAA’s own surveys indicate that college athletes often dedicate well in excess of
forty hours per week to their sport,
leaving little time for academics, and universities themselves acknowl-
edge the conflict between high-revenue sports and their educational mission, the NCAA continues to hide
behind the facade of education to justify its anticompetitive restraint on labor. Indeed, even after the long-
academic fraud scandal at UNC, the NCAA refused to implement regulations that would prevent
Neither should it escape attention that UNC chose the Afro and African-American Studies
Department in which to deliver the fraudulent “paper courses” that ensured athlete eligibility and thus
continued financial benefits to the school. Yet the NCAA and its defenders perpetuate the myth that the
substandard education many athletes receive represents a consumer benefit that justifies the restraint on
their ability to monetize their labor and their very identities.
The treatment of labor may have ostensibly improved from the days of the plantation economy
(though abuse and mistreatment of athletes continues to occur with disturbing frequency).
explain herein, however, the progress has been largely superficial and designed to mask a professional
industry that methodically arrogates value from the majority Black labor, and funnels said value to
institutions, administrators, coaches, and various other, predominantly White constituencies. The
plantation has morphed into a more visually palatable form, as attested by eight of the ten largest
sports stadiums on the planet belonging to American college football programs.
Yet highly com-
pensated White coaches and administrators in collegia te sports unduly benefit from the marginal
revenue product (MRP) of predominantly Black college athletes.
When assessing a restraint limiting
payments to assistant collegiate basketball coaches over two decades ago, the antitrust system deemed
7. Jerry Brewer, The Difference between a Plantation and College Sports: A Plantation didn’t Pretend, WASHINGTON
POST, Mar. 11, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/03/11/greg-mcdermott-plantation-ncaa-basketball/.
8. Andrew Joseph, Former College Athletes Destroyed the NCAA’s ‘a Day in the Life’ Commercial, USA TODAY, Mar. 19,
9. NCAA, NCAA GOALS Study of the Student-Athlete Experience, Initial Summary of Findings, Jan. 2016 (“FBS football
players continue to report the highest weekly in-season time commitments (median¼42 hours/week, up from 39 hours/week
in 2010). FCS football and Division I baseball also reported 40 hours/week or more.”) https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/
10. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Response to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on
Colleges (SACSCOC) Letter of Nov. 13, 2014 (Jan. 12, 2015).
11. Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Keeping the Status Quo, INSIDE HIGHER ED, Sept. 5, 2019, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/
12. Ted Tatos. Abuse and Mistreatment of Athletes at US Universities: Legal Implications for Institutional Duty-to-Protect ,
TEXAS REVIEW OF ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS LAW (Summer/Fall 2020).
13. Robert J. Wood, List of the World’s Largest Sports Stadiums, TOP END SPORTS, May 2021. https://www.topendsports.
14. As of the writing of this article, only thirteen of the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision coaches are Black. Ivan Maisel, The Lack
of Black College Football Coaches is Still Glaring, and so are the Excuses behind It, ESPN, Dec. 3, 2020, https://www.espn.
com/college-football/story/_/id/30435797/the-lack-black-college-football-coaches- glaring-the-excu ses-it. In 2020, 119
football coaches for whom pay levels were reported received a total of $321.8 million in compensation. Black coach
compensation represented 11.6%if this total. See NCAA Salaries, USA TODAY, https://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/salaries/.
398 The Antitrust Bulletin 66(3)