Review of Industrial Organization

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 185–209 | Cite as

The National Collegiate Athletic Association Cartel: Why it Exists, How it Works, and What it Does

  • Allen R. Sanderson
  • John J. SiegfriedEmail author


In this essay we consider why American colleges and universities participate in big-time commercialized intercollegiate sports, and how sports came to play such a prominent role on American college and university campuses. We also review how the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) developed as a body to regulate player safety and transformed itself into an economic regulator, the means by which the NCAA attempts to maintain its control, increase revenues, and reduce costs for college sports programs. We also examine how the organization succeeds in the face of institutional characteristics that imply that its cartel activities would be doomed. Finally, we speculate on what changes might be on the horizon for the NCAA and college athletics.


Cartel Market power National Collegiate Athletic Association 



The authors acknowledge and thank their research assistant, Lindsey Currier, for her valuable contributions and Andrew Zimbalist and Lawrence White for helpful comments on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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