Amateurism and College Athletics

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This paper explores the concept of amateurism as it relates to college sports. The history of amateurism in sports will be reviewed with consideration of how that history has been revised to support the modern-day, $16 billion college-sports enterprise. The National College Athletic Association’s (NCAA) history will be summarized, and its role as the head of a cartel of colleges engaged in a sports-entertainment business will be discussed. After the economics of this cartel is examined, it will be argued that NCAA member schools enjoy monopolistic and monopsonistic powers that give them impressive market power. The NCAA’s amateurism rules serve to protect the integrity of the cartel and allow colleges to extract rents from studentathletes, especially Division I football and men’s basketball players. Too often with this current system, athletic scholarships fail to translate into a college education. Additionally, the injury risks inherent to college sports seem undermanaged and undercompensated. The paper will conclude with possible alternatives to amateurism in college sports.


Type of resource text
Date created April 2014


Author Lemons, Robert Scott
Primary advisor Cogan, John F.
Degree granting institution Stanford University, Department of Economics


Subject Stanford Department of Economics
Subject amateur athlete
Subject college sports
Subject revenue-generating sports
Subject NCAA
Subject cartel economics
Subject monopsonistic cartel
Subject athletic scholarship
Subject college-sports-related injuries
Genre Thesis

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Lemons, Robert Scott. (2014). Amateurism and College Athletics. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


Stanford University, Department of Economics, Honors Theses

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