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Sports Law
University of South Carolina School of Law
McCulloch, Joseph M. Jr.

Sports Law Fall 2007
Professor McCulloch

Amateur Sports Associations: Rules, Procecures, Eligibility, and Other Issues

(A) Threshold Constitutional Issues
û NCAA v. Tarkanian- P.64 →NCAA AS STATE ACTOR. NCAA put UNLV (a state school) under investigation for violating recruiting rules. After a major investigation, the committee found 38 violations, 10 of which were by Tarkanian, UNLV’s basketball coach. NCAA imposed sanctions, and said that UNLV should suspend Tarkanian. They could either ignore it and get in trouble, do as they said, or withdraw from the NCAA. They chose to follow the rules.
° Tarkanian sued the NCAA, claiming that they are a state actor and deprived him of due process. If it can be shown that the NCAA was calling the shots for a state organization as Tarkanian asserts, then they can be deemed a state actor.

° HOLDING→ for NCAA. Ct said it would be more appropriate to conclude that UNLV conducted its athletic program under the color of the policies adopted by the NCAA, rather than that those policies were developed and enforced under color of Nevada law.

° Held that University’s imposition of disciplinary sanctions against basketball coach in compliance with NCAA rules and recommendations did not turn the association’s otherwise private conduct into state action, and thus Association could not be held liable for violation of coach’s civil rights.

û Brentwood Academy v. Tenn. Athl. Assn.- P. 73 IS A STATE ASSOC A STATE ACTOR? Private high school sued state interscholastic athletic assoc seeking to prevent enforcement of rule prohibiting use of undue influence in recruitment of student athletes.
° The association had found that the school had violated an undue influence policy when the coach wrote to incoming students and their parents about practice.
° The Association put school on probation for 4 years and they couldn’t play in the playoffs. All of the voting members of the board of control for the Association were public school administrators.
° ISSUE- whether a statewide association incorporated to regulate interscholastic athletic competition among public and private secondary schools may be regarded as engaging in state action when it enforces a rule against a member school.
° TEST- The state action may be found only if there is such a close nexus between the state and the challenged action that seemingly private behavior may be fairly treated as that of the state itself.
° HOLDING- For Brentwood Academy-. The nominally private character of the association is overborne by the pervasive entwinement of public institutions and public officials in its composition and workings, and there is no substantial reason to claim unfairness in applying constitutional standards to it.

° Here, public schools constituted 84% of its membership, half of council and board meetings were held during official school hours, public schools provided for association’s financial support by giving up sources of their income, state board of education members served as members of association’s board, etc.
° NCAA Rules, Procedure & Authority- no specifics → The SC suggests that NCAA eligibility regulations may no longer be viewed as a state action. However, that is very iffy and they only commented in one case. Still up in the air. The court observed that the action of removing a coach from a state institutio

f there was any conflict between athletics and education
° The application filed by Taylor said that he would abide by the rules of the University
° When Taylor refused to maintain his athletic eligibility and this meant both physically and scholastically (which with he agreed), in the absence of any injury or other plausible excuse (other than failing to devote more times to his studies) – he was not complying with his K obligations
Q NCAA amended its rules to provide that “where a student’s athletic ability is taken into consideration in any degree in awarding financial aid, such aid shall not be awarded in excess of one year

Q Article 13.1.1.3 – no athletic representation of another college may contact the student-athlete without permission from his current college

û Trial Court→ Ross v. Creighton University(Ill. Dis. 1990) –P. 12 → Ross, a former basketball player, threw pieces of furniture outside a hotel window saying they represented Creighton Univ b/c they caused his depression. He alleges that the university caused this episode and otherwise injured him by recruiting him to attend the school on a scholarship knowing (based on test scores) that he would be unable to be successful. After 4 years, he only had 96 credits and a D average.
Π asserts a hybrid claim of Negligent Infliction of ED and Educational Negligence.