Not Quite An Unethical Lawsuit, Just An Unusually Stupid One

Some slick lawyers somehow talked some dumb and greedy jocks into launching a class action suit against Ivy League colleges because—get this-–they don’t have athletic scholarships. The Hail Mary lawsuit argues that Brown, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Cornell Universities, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania have illegally conspired to limit financial aid by banning athletic scholarships.

They also ban chess scholarships, Gilbert & Sullivan scholarships, and cooking scholarships, incidentally.

“Regardless of whether considered as a restraint on the price of education, the value of financial aid, the price of athletic services, or the level of compensation to Ivy League athletes, the Ivy League Agreement is per se illegal,” the lawsuit states.

Sure. The problem is that Ivy League schools, to their credit, and I don’t credit them for much, insist on admitting students, not jocks. If a talented student also has athletic ability, that’s a plus; on the other hand, nobody is admitted to the Ivys with an obligation to play football or basketball. Sports are an extra-curricular activity: grades come first. Robin Harris, the Ivy League executive director, explained the no-scholarship policy:

“The Ivy League athletics model is built upon the foundational principle that student-athletes should be representative of the wider student body, including the opportunity to receive need-based financial aid. In turn, choosing and embracing that principle then provides each Ivy League student-athlete a journey that balances a world-class academic experience with the opportunity to compete in Division I athletics and ultimately paves a path for lifelong success.”

…unlike the many athlete mills that act as recruitment operations for the NBA and NFL, frequently graduating failed aspiring pro-athletes who would have a hard time passing 10th Grade English.

Polishing off their best “everybody does it” argument, the lawyers who dreamed up this waste of a judge note that other elite higher ed institutions like Stanford and Duke offer athletic scholarships. Right: and both institutions are corrupted by participating in the scam of high-profile sports. Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia and Penn don’t offer merit scholarships of any kind, including athletic scholarships. The policy dates back to 1954 and makes the Ivy League the only Division I athletic conference that prohibits member schools from offering any athletic scholarships.

As a result, the teams in the Ivy League are usually not very good. But their students aren’t attending those schools to get their photos on Wheaties boxes, either.

It’s an unethical lawsuit in a general sense but not in the legal sense: lawyers can bring contrived suits if they make a “good faith” argument that the law should be changed, even if, as in this case, it is an uncommonly stupid argument.


Pointer: Curmie

4 thoughts on “Not Quite An Unethical Lawsuit, Just An Unusually Stupid One

  1. The University of Chicago was the king of college football in the ’20s and ’30s or thereabouts. Amos Alonzo Stagg was the coach, and they dominated the Big Ten when there was no NFL and college football was a really big deal. Then the president of the University announced football wasn’t part of education and ended football at Chicago. Boom. The football stadium was later to become famous for the first nuclear fission effected underneath the stands by Enrico Fermi and his crew during their heroic effort to build The Bomb before the Germans did. I’ve often wished Notre Dame would do the same thing. If they want to be THE great catholic university, they should stop winning one for the Gipper and grow up. But the money’s too good. I’m sure the Holy Cross fathers that own the place make an “ends justify the means” argument to continue shaking down the thunder.

  2. Next will be a lawsuit against the military academies for not offering athletic scholarships, which I guess would be for those who want to attend West Point but not serve in the Army.

    I hear you laughing, but with the current leaders in the Pentagon and DoD, it could happen.

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