With Princeton upsetting second-seeded Arizona, and after another impressive win over Missouri, the Ivy League’s most visible beast during March Madness, the championship game NCAA year.
This year’s Princeton basketball team is only the fourth time a 15th-seeded team (out of sixteen) has advanced to the “Sweet 16” of the men’s side of the tournament—and the fourth in Ivy League team in history to reach that level of competition. . It’s especially surprising when we apply a special Ivy League rule that limits players’ eligibility to four years rather than five.
But what if the Ivy League is not as special as it once was? It’s a riddle that finds an answer in a new lawsuit that says Ivy League schools are doing price-fixing by not doing what other schools do 1: offer scholarships sports in an effort to get high-achieving students into their schools. .
The group of eight prestigious private universities in the northeastern United States—including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale—are recognized for their academic excellence and with a long history of producing leads. in different schools.
One of the most popular things about the Ivy League is that they don’t offer athletic scholarships. That’s why students enrolled in Ivy League schools can’t get scholarships related to their sports. Instead, Ivy League schools offer financial aid based on academic merit and financial need.
The Ivy League’s decision not to offer athletic scholarships is based on their commitment to academic excellence and their belief that sports are part of the overall educational experience. The Ivy League believes that students are admitted to their schools based on their academic performance and ability rather than their athletic ability.
One of the core values of the Ivy League is that students who participate in intercollegiate sports do so for the love of the game and for the personal growth and development that comes with being part of a team. . Ivy League schools see sports as an opportunity for students to learn leadership skills, develop character, and foster teamwork.
Another reason the Ivy League doesn’t offer athletic scholarships is because they want to avoid the negative things that come with focusing on athletic performance. They want to avoid creating an environment where athletes feel that their sports are more important than their schools. This can lead to a situation where student-athletes are not participating in their academic activities and are not taking advantage of the academic opportunities provided by the school.
Although no athletic scholarships are offered, Ivy League schools have had successful athletic programs since the league was founded in 1954. Some Ivy League players are among the best in the country and go on to compete at the business level. However, the Ivy League believes that athletics complements their school mission, not the other way around.
The lawsuit, filed in the first week of March by former Brown basketball players, which names the Ivy League schools as defendants, alleges that the schools have set costs. in violation of antitrust laws.
Plaintiffs argued that the Ivy League’s policy of awarding need-based financial aid over athletic scholarships harmed them, because they could have received athletic scholarships at the schools. 1 other part.
Here’s where the lawsuit ends: Plaintiffs say that if there is no agreement between the schools, the students will compete with the schools for their sports activities, such as other schools in Division 1. However, the Ivies have already competed for these players by seeking to provide better support packages than their Ivy League competitors.
Simply put, if the courts dig deep, they will find that there is a history of high-profile athletes being offered Ivy League educations, just as schools allow access to sports. to give them better control of the entries. process.
In fact, the Ivy League is serious about its sports. And while, say, Dartmouth football isn’t the billion-dollar industry that Oklahoma football is, it’s not as important to prominent Dartmouth alumni. Because of the money in the promotion of golf sports, this is the way we have been able to build a multi-million business on the back of the players who have provided free work.
No matter what the courts decide, the Ivy Leagues need to stop thinking of themselves as special and more competitive, both academically and athletically, compared to “little schools.” .” They should call their student-athlete payments “financial aid” and “athletic scholarships.”
The best way for the Ivy League to take teams, which I have written and talked about at length. A club is a group of volunteers who promote the athletic program by helping to recruit and retain student-athletes by providing them with financial and other benefits.
These organizations help top Division 1 schools connect alumni and other business funds to high-level players to pay them to attend a given school and help them monetize their name, image, and style.
In other words, the “elevation” teams are full of scholarships at strong Division 1 schools that have football programs valued at up to a billion dollars. Having different groups on top of financial aid groups from Ivy League schools solves the athletic scholarship problem by making it useless.
Allowing teams into the Ivy League picture will bring in the free agent players are looking for. Teams from Ivy League schools can compete against each other to attract high school students—not just from other Ivies but from all other schools 1.
Looking at the law, the Supreme Court can recognize this scheme. This is the same court that tore up the NCAA’s foundations in Alston, opening the door for the breadth and depth of player compensation we’ve seen since the 2021 decision.
Even though the Supreme Court doesn’t reach cases involving golf sports, this court in Alston has shown that they’re ready to open more doors that aren’t properly closed – maybe one of them will get a reward suitable for Ivy League players.
Aron Solomon, JD, is the chief legal analyst for Esquire Digital. He studied business administration at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania and was selected to Fastcase 50, which recognizes the top 50 legal professionals in the world.
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