National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Board Of Regents

468 U.S. 85 (1984)


D was formed in 1905 and plays an important role in the regulation of amateur, collegiate sports. It has adopted and promulgated playing rules, standards of amateurism, standards for academic eligibility, regulations concerning recruitment of athletes, and rules governing the size of athletic squads and coaching staffs. With the exception of football, D has not undertaken any regulation of the televising of athletic events. Some years ago, five major conferences, together with major football-playing independent institutions organized the College Football Association (CFA). The CFA goal was to promote the interests of major football-playing schools within the D structure. In 1981 D adopted a new television broadcast plan. The goal of the plan was to reduce, insofar as possible, the adverse effects of live television upon football game attendance. In it, the television committee awarded rights to negotiate and contract for the telecasting of college football games of members of D to two 'carrying networks.' D granted each network the right to telecast the 14 live 'exposures.' Each of the networks agreed to pay a specified 'minimum aggregate compensation to the participating NCAA member institutions' during the 4-year period in an amount that totaled $131,750,000. Each network could negotiate directly with member schools for the right to televise their games. The basic requirement imposed on each of the two networks is that it must schedule appearances for at least 82 different member institutions during each 2-year period. Under the appearance limitations, no member institution is eligible to appear on television more than a total of six times and more than four times nationally, with the appearances to be divided equally between the two carrying networks. The plan limits the total amount of televised intercollegiate football and the number of games that any one team may televise. CFA investigated the possibility of negotiating a television agreement of its own and developed an independent plan, and obtained a contract offer from the National Broadcasting Co. (NBC). D publicly announced that it would take disciplinary action against any CFA member that complied with the CFA-NBC contract. Oklahoma and Georgia (Ps) sued alleging that D’s plan unreasonably restrained trade in violation of §1 of the Sherman Act. Ps obtained a preliminary injunction preventing D from initiating disciplinary proceedings or otherwise interfering with CFA's efforts to perform its agreement with NBC. The court of appeals affirmed; it held that the D television plan constituted illegal per se price fixing.  D appealed.