Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Health Promotion and Human Performance

First Advisor

Richard T. Karcher

Second Advisor

Christopher Herman


The NCAA began in the early 1900s as a way to regulate the wild west that was intercollegiate athletics. Over time, the organization has grown from its 62 member beginnings to three divisions with 1,281 members. In 2017, for the first time in its history, the NCAA brought in over one billion dollars in total revenue (Kirshner 2018). The NCAA has been able to achieve this feat by its insistence on the "amateurism" of its participants. This business model has allowed the organization to keep the financial benefits associated with the playing of high-level sports on college campuses. Participants in these events deemed "Student-Athletes," are barred from receiving payment for their athletic skills without being faced with the potential of losing their ability to compete at the NCAA level. This thesis will answer the following questions; when did the NCAA's reliance upon "amateurism" begin? How should the NCAA change their policies to reflect the changing culture that surrounds athletics in America? Just how has intercollegiate athletics changed over the past half-century? Moreover, what challenges might the NCAA face in making these changes from competitors or otherwise?