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It appears that the Big East (football) Conference lost two members to the ACC:  Syracuse and Pittsburgh.  Of course the ACC is also a basketball conference so this affects the huge Big East (basketball) conference, too.  It may be a good move for the ACC (Syracuse and Pittsburgh serve large media markets) but it continues the evolution toward superconferences in football.  This event will also affect basketball, too.

The New York Times is however reporting a different development:  The concern of Congress and the NCAA.

The shift in alignments among universities has not gone unnoticed in Washington. In a telephone interview early Sunday morning, a Congressional member from a state with a university potentially negatively impacted said that the conference issue raised concerns over taxes, antitrust law and potentially Title IX.

The unnamed solon was quoted as saying this was “‘spinning out of control.'”  Thus, notwithstanding constitutional concerns (It may be technically a regulation of interstate commerce based on today’s interpretation of law, that is not a consistently held position throughout US history.  Sports is clearly a local and state matter, not federal) it may be necessary for Congress to get involved.  The money will force the issue:

In an era of billion-dollar contracts, and with dozens of athletic departments at state universities attempting to balance budgets of tens of millions of dollars, there is a potential loss of public money for the universities left behind.

The representative’s concerns are that lesser institutions might be squeezed out.  He/she cites potential breaches of contracts.

“’What we’re seeing is an effort by certain institutions to push other major institutions out of revenue deals and thereby impacting universities. And it’s done in a way that’s breaching contracts.’”

The representative ought to be taken to a nearby United States District Court and pointed out – that’s where breach of contract is remedied.  Congress must not determine contract breachers and then use regulation to punish them.  That certainly raises other constitutional issues:  The bill of attainder.  (The bill of attainder is a ancient English parliamentary procedure that allowed Parliament to investigate actions, make findings of guilt and then punish the offender.)

I wonder if the real concern of this representative is the NCAA.  As Coach Calipari suggested, superconferences are a threat to the governance of the NCAA over major college sports.  Here’s an admission against interest by the congressman:

When it’s a regional league it seems to make sense. When you’re taking schools practically from coast to coast and putting them in big profit revenue leagues, we may be at a point where the N.C.A.A. has lost its ability to create a fair system for all universities to play in.”

But the NCAA is inherently unfair and that is not just my opinion.  It does not need Congress butting in where it does not belong and where the Constitution does not authorize.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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