Ivy League Colleges Sued Over Ban On Athletic Scholarships

The current restriction has been in place since 1954. Ivy League Colleges Sued Over Ban On Athletic Scholarships Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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While standout high school athletes can often rely on scholarships to gain entry to colleges that they might not otherwise be able to afford, that is not the case for students who want to attend any of the nation’s eight Ivy League institutions.

Now, two Brown University basketball players (one current and one former) are challenging the ban on athletic scholarships with a lawsuit claiming that the rule is illegal.

At the heart of the case

Grace Kirk, who currently plays on the Brown women’s team, and Tamanang Choh, who was on the men’s squad until last year, are hoping to win a class-action lawsuit applying to current and former athletes at Ivy League schools dating back four years.

The lawsuit alleges that the eight colleges are essentially engaged in a coordinated price-fixing scheme by refusing to provide any financial relief for athletes who represent them in various sports.

All eight schools — in addition to Brown, they include Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Dartmouth — have had a ban in place on athletic scholarships since 1954.

Defending the prohibition

Although this makes the Ivy League the only Division I conference without such compensation, its executive director dismisses claims that the longstanding policy is unfair.

Robin Harris touted the “foundational principle that student-athletes should be representative of the wider student body, including the opportunity to receive need-based financial aid.”

She went on to claim that this approach “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.”

The lawsuit, on the other hand, notes that other elite universities are able to “maintain stellar academic standards while competing for excellent athletes, and without agreed upon limits on price.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee March 9th, 2023
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