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The NCAA Cartel and Competitive Balance in College Football by E. Woodrow Eckard. Research question: Whatimpact does NCAA has in college football? The author is establishing a premise, reliable enough to help in making any inference regarding the role of NCAA in College Football. There is, therefore, the consideration of the period before the NCAA enforcement and during the enforcement of the regulation. Eckard has used both the empirical and theoretical approach of presenting his paper. The Cartel argument presents a theoretical approach, that the NCAA regulations and enforcement hinder improvements on weak teams, as well as protecting competition in strong teams.

Additionally, NCAA uses a “stratification” strategy, “less churning” over years in national rankings as well as conference standings. The author chooses to refer to the context of football, before and after 1952; the period when NCCA regulations were adopted. The paper reveals of the role of NCAA, through the recruitment process, players’ eligibility, and compensation. Eckard uses empirical data tests to help in testing the reliability of hypotheses. The data is discussed, and eventually there is the presentation of the statistical results preceding the conclusion. Although the establishment of NCAA can be traced as early as in 1906, its enforcement authority was accorded to it following the adoption of the 1948’s Sanity Code (Falla, 1981).

However, the enforcement authority proved ineffective, and the Sanity Code was reinstituted in 1951. The establishment of the present NCAA regulatory structure has turned the institution an economic cartel. Essentially, the regulations limit the compensation due to athletes to room and board, tuition, and books in order to the guiding by NCAA, “Principle of Amateurism” (NCAA Manual, 1993).

On the other hand, NCAA ascribes that the economic regulations that it applies help in promoting competitive balance. The overall goal of NCAA is to attain a competitive equity while considering every member school (NCCA Manual, 1993). The additional principles governing the concept of player recruitment and eligibility state, any related regulation should “promote equity among member institutions”, as well as “promote competitive equity among member institutions” (NCAA Manual, 1993). However, lack of oversight would give room for a number of schools to dominate through outbidding other institutions concerning top athletes. The main conclusion rests on the enforcement mechanism by NCAA over player eligibility recruiting and compensation introduced in 1952 constitutes most substantial operational shift in the history of college football.

Additionally, the results obtained from the results indicate that competitive equity declined following the adoption of cartel enforcement in 1952. The author presents a reliable premise upon which he tests his hypothesis. The art of assessing both the perspectives of economists and NCCA regarding competitive balance helps the reader enlighten over competitive equity. The open TV contract competition over football games, after telecast ban, did not amount to the reduction on competitive balance.

This observation indicates a conflict in the NCCA objectives; amateurism principle pursued at the expense of controlled competitive equity. The biggest criticism of the paper covers the regulations limit concerning the compensation due to athletes, in accordance to the guiding by NCAA, “Principle of Amateurism” (NCAA Manual, 1993). Economists argue that NCAA is a cartel, where members tend to “collude” in order to exhibit joint monopsony over football’s key input. Football players are less paid, while enriching the institution.

There is also a lack of consistency in performance since 1952, following the enforcement mechanism; a fact that constrains college behaviors. There author does not provide any information on how competitive balance could have shifted while excluding the regulation by NCAA. Reference: Eckard, E. Woodrow. (1998). The NCAA Cartel and Competitive Balance in College Football. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands.

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