Journal of Intellectual Property Law


This Note explores the evolution of the amateur status in college athletics, particularly the absence of a consistent definition for “amateur collegiate athlete” by the NCAA over the years. The traditional demarcation between amateur and professional athletes blurred significantly, particularly with the exponential growth of college football revenues, leading to indistinguishable time commitments for both categories. The landmark case of NCAA v. Alston marked a pivotal moment as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing college athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness ("NIL"). This decision overturned decades of prohibiting such practices in the name of amateurism, triggering widespread implications for various stakeholders such as schools, coaches, players, and parents. Individual state laws on NIL further contributed to a confusing patchwork, raising concerns about potential unfair practices impacting competition, particularly in football. The NCAA is now urging Congress to address challenges and uncertainties created by the Alston ruling. This Note supports the conclusion that Congress should play a role in establishing bipartisan legislation to ensure fairness in the recruiting process, protect athletes' intellectual property, and foster healthy competition among university athletic departments. This will help create a level playing field and bring clarity to the confusing and ever-changing landscape of college athletics.