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The Man Who Thinks He ‘Screwed Up’ College Football With A Supreme Court Win


The lawyer who is arguably responsible for these radical changes says he’s not at all happy about them as a century-old collegiate sports league teeters on the verge of extinction and student-athletes prepare for exhausting cross-country travel.

Andrew Coats, the attorney who in 1984 persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to permit universities to maximize football income, sparking a televised money grab and today’s massive upheaval, now regrets the historic case he successfully argued.

“I think I screwed up college football across the board, because I think the case did it,” Coats recently told NBC News, reflecting on his role in NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma.

The governing body of intercollegiate sports was declared ineligible to impede the trade rights of schools and their conferences, according to a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that sided with Coats’ clients.

The once-steady world of college football has now devolved into a near-constant swap meet where universities routinely switch league affiliations in search of more lucrative TV deals. As a result, the Pac-12, a 108-year-old league, will likely only consist of four institutions going forward.

Largely at the expense of student-athletes who, in all sports, often travel thousands of miles for routine games when they used to be within reach of short plane journeys or bus trips, these enormous deals have caused the value of televised college football games to rise in recent decades.

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