According to Wikipedia, indentured servitude has been illegal in the US for quite a while:
… Several Acts passed by the American and British governments helped foster the decline of indentures. The Passenger Vessels Act 1803, an Act of the UK Parliament which regulated travel conditions aboard ships, attempted to make transportation more expensive so as to hinder landlords’ tenants seeking a better life. The American abolition of imprisonment of debtors by federal law (passed in 1833) made prosecution of runaway servants more difficult, increasing the risk of indenture contract purchases. The 13th Amendment passed in the wake of the American Civil War made indentured servitude illegal in the United States.
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
It seems the NCAA has an exemption to the 13th, but fortunately for Mr. Bigby-Williams, Coach Altman wants his scholarship for another student-athlete and he is now free to leave UO:
Kavell Bigby-Williams, one of the final pieces remaining of a Final Four Oregon squad has requested and has been granted his transfer from the University of Oregon. It is not known if Bigby-Williams is going to leave, but the release allows him to weigh his options for next season. According to the University of Oregon, Head Coach Dana Altman is recruiting the rest of this week and is looking to meet with Bigby-Williams early next week.
While I’m no economist, it’s fascinating to see that the British ruling class was using the same sort of labor cartel practices in 1803 as the NCAA is using today: make it as difficult as possible for your workers to move to better opportunities so you can keep the profits from their labor for yourself.
Or, as Abraham Lincoln said of people like Dana Altman,
“It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.”