Sam Ehrlich, an assistant professor in the Department of Management, published “Remembering the Lessons of the Baseball Exemption in NCAA v. Alston” in the Rutgers Law Record.
Ehrlich’s essay urged the U.S. Supreme Court to keep in mind a particular piece of sports law history as it decided NCAA v. Alston, an antitrust challenge to NCAA implementation of caps on education-related benefits afforded by member institutions to college athletes. In 1922, the Supreme Court found in Federal Baseball v. National League that professional baseball was exempt from the antitrust laws. This decision was later affirmed twice by the court in 1953 (Toolson v. New York Yankees) and 1972 (Flood v. Kuhn). However, the court’s exemption of professional baseball has been criticized over the years for its shaky legal reasoning.
“The court has steadfastly refused to extend baseball’s exemption to other sports, calling the Federal Baseball ruling unrealistic, inconsistent or illogical,” Ehrlich said. “As such, I urged the court to not repeat the same mistakes as Federal Baseball, Toolson and Flood in its Alston ruling by granting the NCAA the antitrust immunity that it clearly desires.”
He argues that if antitrust immunity is to be given to the NCAA it should be granted by Congress through federal legislation. If the court were to do it, it would both disrupt the legislative process already in place and haunt the court’s legacy.
“Such a ruling would almost certainly be seen as similarly unrealistic, inconsistent or illogical 100 years later,” he added.
Ehrlich has been quoted on the subject of NCAA v. Alston in New York Daily News, Bloomberg Law, Law360 and Front Office Sports. He also recently wrote a guest spot for the popular college sports business newsletter Extra Points.