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Sports Law
University of Mississippi School of Law
Berry, William W.

Regulating Intercollegiate Athletics
Contractual Aspects
Taylor v. Wake Forest (express contract)
Plays Football and wants to take a semester off to focus on his academics
If he wants to do this, his coach will make him give up his scholarship
Oral statement:
“In the event of any conflict between educational achievement and athletic involvement, participation in athletic activities could be limited or eliminated to the extent necessary to assure reasonable academic progress.”
Taylor’s written contract says he’ll maintain eligibility for play under Conference and institutional rules.
Scholastic eligibility = requirements of Wake Forest
Physical eligibility = participation in athletics
Refusing to participate physical eligibility req. w/o injury = noncompliance w/ agreement
Written statement:
“I agree to maintain eligibility for intercollegiate athletics under both Conference and Institutional rules. Training rules (get from PowerPoint)
“As long as his grade average equaled… the requirements of Wake Forest, he was maintaining his scholastic eligibility for athletics. Participation [in athletics] … was required to maintain his physical eligibility. When he refused to do so in the absence of any injury or excuse other than to devote more time to his studies, he was not complying with his contractual obligations.”
An express contract may come from:
Statement of financial assistance, college agrees to provide financial aid to student athlete (tuition, fees, books, board) to assist in pursuit of program of study and participate in educational process of college
National Letter of Intent
University Publications and bulletins
Rule: The relationship between the student-athlete and the university is a contractual one, with the express contract requiring participation by the athlete as a condition to the institution’s obligation to provide aid (Taylor).
One-year term according to conditions of Statement of Financial aid and National Letter of Intent (if signed).
An Express Contract
Arising out of:
The Statement of Financial Assistance
Pursuant to the Statement of Financial Assistance, the college agrees to extend financial aid to student-athletes to the extent of:
Cost of attendance
Stated Purpose: to assist and enable student-athletes to pursue a program of study and to participate in the educational process of the institution. In exchange for the university’s commitment, a student-athlete promises to attend a particular college and to participate in athletics.
True Cost of Attendance
à Application to Autonomy Conferences. A member institution of one of the five conferences named in Constitution shall use a full grant-in-aid in its equivalency computations as defined in Bylaw 15.02.5. The elements of a grant-in-aid…
à Application to Other Conferences.
National Letter of Intent (NLI)àFebruary 3rd
University Publications and Bulletins
NCAA Bylaw, Article 15
One-year minimum: financial aid must be awarded just for 1 year; many schools offer multi-year scholarships.
Financial aid for (1) year
Reduction or cancellation during year cannot be based on athletic ability UNLESS
Ineligible (i.e. academics)
Serious misconduct
Voluntarily withdraws
Happen on or before July 1 before academic year
Hearing before financial aid committee (not Athletic Director or Financial Advisor Committee)àfinancial aid does this
à Reduction or Nonrenewal Not Permitted –… the following factors shall not be considered in the reduction or nonrenewal of such aid for the following academic year or years of the student-athlete’s five-year period of eligibility (red shirting and grey shirting)
One-year term according to conditions of Statement of Financial aid and National Letter of Intent (if signed).
Text of National Letter of Intent
University can determine not to admit someone even if they signed a letter of intent
High school students sign letter of intent agreeing to attend institution for one year in exchange for the institutions written promise to provide athletics financial aid for entire academic year provided
Student is admitted to institut

ice to join the union or not to join the unionß
Many “right to work states” prohibit public employee unions
Purpose of labor laws is to create efficiency and make the market less competitive
Liberty or Property Interests of Student-Athletes
Hysaw v. Washburn University of Topeka (152-60)
Black players argue that white players w/ equal or less ability given greater opportunities to make more beneficial scholarship Ks and participate in football program.They argue property interest in contractual right to play football at Wash U.
Alleged Claims:
Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (equal rights)
Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (civil action for deprivation of rights)
Property interests, must come from independent source (like state law)
Unilateral expectations are not a legitimate property interests, thus, no right to pursue football career
Liberty interests, must show legitimate interest in right from independent source of law
Right to pursue a football career does not count (remember defamatory statements made by gov’t employee)
First Amendment interests
Breach of contract
Rule: Student-athletes have property interests in their scholarships, but no liberty or property interests related to participation in college athletics outside of the scholarship agreement (Hysaw).
Conard v. University of Washington (161-69)
UW would not renew financial aid if finding of serious misconduct, which was decided from UW student code and team rules
Broad guidelines do not create a mutually explicit understanding as to disputed issues
Rule: Student-athletes do not have a protected property interest in the renewal of their athletic scholarships (Conard).