June 14, 2010
Antitrust and Exempt Organizations: The NFL Case
Since the National Football League is a tax-exempt organizations (see Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(6)), I would be remiss if I did not at least mention the Supreme Court's recent decision finding that the NFL's 32 members could engage in "concerted action" that is covered by section 1 of the Sherman Act. I am far from being an antitrust expert, but the decision does at least raise some interesting questions regarding the extent of coordinated activity in which members of a nonprofit association can engage. For example, does this case have any ramifications for the NCAA and its members, including for the pending antitrust lawsuit challenging the unpaid status of college athletes? What about the various college sports conferences? Of course colleges and universities have long had to live with the reality that the antitrust laws, to some extent, apply to them (see the successful government antitrust challenge to the "Ivy Overlap Group" in United States v. Brown University, 5 F.3d 658 (3d Cir. 1993)).
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