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DOJ and College Football

By Matthew Yglesias  

"DOJ and College Football"

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Barack Obama says we need a college football playoff. Rep Neil Abercrombie wants to get the DOJ involved:

Seizing on Obama’s public support of a new system, Abercrombie wrote a letter to the president-elect last month urging him to have the Department of Justice investigate the issue.

“With the prestige of the Presidency and vigorous pursuit by the Department of Justice in support of fairness and equity, we are certain the BCS will be persuaded to resolve the issues to the benefit of the nation’s colleges and their fans.”

Steve Benen says this is a bad idea. And indeed it probably is. I do, however, think that there could be a role for the Justice Department in looking at the larger issue of the NCAA cartel that enforces the “no wages for young professional athletes” rule governing big-time college football and college basketball programs. The rule makes no sense. Lots of people earn lots of money off big-time college football and college basketball programs. The unpaid players are adults, fully legally eligible to do paid work in the American economy. And colleges all across the country employ students as part-time workers in a variety of capacities. So why shouldn’t they pay the kids who are earning them big money playing football and basketball? No reason anyone should force schools to pay their players, but there’s also no reason colleges should be allowed to engage in cartel behavior that would be considered illegal in any other field just because they’re colleges.

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