UI Faculty Council discusses athletics on campus


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Antitrust issues in the NCAA are under scrutiny throughout the country and at the University of Iowa, faculty members are keeping an eye on the issue.

Companies and organizations in the U.S. are not allowed to take in the majority of the revenue generated in their domain, something that has been highlighted recently by the O’Bannon vs. NCAA court case.

O’Bannon, which was recently appealed by the NCAA, challenges the organization’s use of student-athletes and their images for commercial purposes.

During a Faculty Council meeting on Tuesday, faculty members discussed how the Iowa Athletics Department could address the antitrust issue on campus.

“We need … to see how it plays out,” Faculty Senate President Alexandra Thomas said. “I encourage faculty to watch this, and see where it becomes important for faculty.”

The Sherman Antitrust Act, which protects against monopolies in the United States, allows for multitudes of businesses with the same focus to generate revenue.

“The Sherman Antitrust Act requires an agreement,” UI law Professor Herb Hovenkamp said. “If the NCAA makes the maximum a college can pay for a student a free ride, they cannot go above that.”

Hovenkamp said he is not anxious about the implications the O’Bannon case could have on UI students.

“There’s at least some chance [the appeal] will be reversed,” Hovenkamp said. “I say let the 9th Circuit Court deal with it; it might even go away.”

Many Faculty Council members brought up the topic of college athletes being salaried, and, pending the result of O’Bannon, if they will receive salaries in the future.

“This one could go to the Supreme Court, but it’s too early to tell,” Hovenkamp said. “Being salaried is one of the reasons the Supreme Court created the amateur label given to college athletes.”

Mike O’Hara, the UI representative for the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, said at the meeting he wanted more faculty involvement on the coalition to create a bigger focus on academics.

He discussed his concern with having student athletes traveling away for games. The number of days of missed school that are acceptable to the UI are eight, but championships and tournaments do not count toward these absences, he said.

“Almost every sport is 12 months long — we can’t even call it a ‘season’ anymore,” O’Hara said. “I’m mainly concerned for the academics of student-athletes.”

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