High Court sides with former athletes in conflict with NCAA


WASHINGTON – The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that the NCAA cannot enforce rules limiting education benefits – like computers and paid internships – that colleges offer student-athletes , a move that could help change the way students – athletes are compensated.

The case does not decide whether students can receive salaries. Instead, the ruling will help determine whether schools decide to offer athletes tens of thousands of dollars in educational benefits for things like tutoring, study abroad programs and scholarships. ‘graduate studies.

The High Court said the NCAA’s limits on the educational benefits colleges can provide to athletes who play Division I basketball and football violate antitrust laws.

Judge Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court that the NCAA sought “immunity from the normal operation of antitrust laws.” And he said allowing colleges and universities to deliver “enhanced educational benefits … can encourage academic achievement and allow student-athletes a measure of compensation more consistent with the value they bring to their families. schools ”.

Under current NCAA rules, students cannot be paid and the scholarships that colleges can offer are capped at the cost of attending school. The NCAA had defended its rules as necessary to preserve the amateur nature of college sports.

But the former athletes who brought the complaint, including former West Virginia footballer Shawne Alston, argued that the NCAA’s rules on education-related pay were unfair and violated designed federal antitrust law. to promote competition. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling barring the NCAA from enforcing those rules.

As a result of the ruling, the NCAA itself cannot prevent schools from sweetening their offerings to Division I basketball and football players with additional education-related benefits. But individual sports conferences can still set limits if they wish.

“We hope this victory in the battle for the rights of varsity athletes will lead to a wave of justice elevating other aspects of athlete compensation,” said Steve Berman, lawyer for former varsity athletes, in a statement following decision. “This is the fair treatment college athletes deserve.”

The NCAA had argued that an athlete decision could blur the line between varsity and pro sports, with colleges trying to attract talented athletes by offering them extravagant educational benefits worth several thousand dollars. Even without a court ruling, however, changes appear to be underway in the way college athletes are paid. The NCAA has worked to change its rules to allow athletes to take advantage of their names, images and likenesses, often abbreviated as NIL. This would allow athletes to earn money for things like sponsorship deals, online approval, and personal appearances. For some athletes, these amounts may eclipse the benefits of education.

“While the decision does not directly relate to name, image and likeness, the NCAA remains committed to supporting the NIL benefits for student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement to the rest of the decision. “In addition, we remain committed to working with Congress to chart a course forward, which the Supreme Court expressly stated in its decision. “

The NFL, NBA and WNBA player associations had all urged judges to side with ex-athletes, as had the Biden administration.

AP College sports writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

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