11 Criminology & Pub. Pol'y 707 (2012)
NCAA Rule Infractions: An Economic Perspective

handle is hein.journals/crpp11 and id is 727 raw text is: POLICY ESSAY
NCAA Rule Infractions
An Economic Perspective
Brad R. Humphreys
niversity of Alberta
Cullen, Latessa, and Jonson (2012, this issue) analyzed data from a survey admin-
istered to a random sample of football and men's basketball players at NCAA
Division I-A institutions in 1994. The survey data are unique and provide de-
tailed information about the behavior and motivations of NCAA student-athletes in the
two sports that generate the largest revenues, and the lion's share of media attention, in U.S.
intercollegiate athletics. Scandals in NCAA Division I-A athletic programs are standard
headline fodder, so any reasoned, carefully performed research on the topic of violations
and the motivations behind them represents an important alternative to one-off ex post
investigations of scandals and sensational media reports designed to sell newspapers and
increase television viewership.
Cullen et al.'s (2012) results suggest that illicit behavior, in terms of violations of NCAA
regulations, took place in this population. Most of the violations took the form of relatively
minor infractions and tended to be of the venial variety: [T]he typical violation involved
the receipt of a free meal, clothes, haircuts, or small amounts of cash (less than $20). Much
of the reported illicit behavior took place after the players were on campus, and not during
the recruitment process. The policy conclusions in the article focus on aligning NCAA
regulations with the actual situation on the ground by calling for the relaxation of NCAA
rules banning receipt of small-time amenities, reducing the punitive nature of many of the
penalties handed down by the NCAA, and urging the NCAA to focus on more serious
Much of the illicit behavior examined by Cullen et al. (2012) can be perceived as a
result of economic decisions made by student-athletes, university employees, and athletic
boosters. Cullen et al.'s results and implications can be viewed through the lens of economics;
Direct correspondence to Brad R. Humphreys, Department of Economics, University of Alberta, 8-14 HM Tory
Building, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H4, Canada (e-mail: brad.humphreys@ualberta.ca).
DOI: 10.111 1/j. 1745-9133.2012.00848.x  D 2012 American Society of Criminology  707
Criminology & Public Policy * Volume 11 * Issue 4

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