, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 347-369

The NCAA Cartel and Competitive Balance in College Football

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Abstract

The NCAA regulates college football player recruiting, eligibility, and compensation. The economic theory of cartels suggests that one consequence may be reduced competitive balance. The enforced restrictions inhibit weak teams from improving, and protect strong teams from competition. A “stratification” is implied which should be evident over time as less “churning” in national rankings and conference standings, and fewer schools achieving national prominence. I test this general hypothesis by comparing various competitive balance measures for about 25 years before and after NCAA enforcement began in 1952. The hypothesis is supported by all measures at both the national and conference levels.