Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA

Written by SK Ashby

Good news -- the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is violating federal anti-trust law by prohibiting student athletes from receiving compensation that is related to their supposed education.

Under the previous status quo, college players could be disqualified for so much as eating dinner that was paid for by the wrong person, but the highest court says NCAA rules against appropriate compensation related to education are illegal.

From CNN:

Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion of a unanimous court, but in a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the NCAA is essentially acting "above the law" in how it treats athletes.

"Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate," Kavanaugh wrote. "And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law." [...]

The ruling is the first time in decades the Supreme Court has considered the issue and is a dramatic win for a class of students who said that they were being exploited. The NCAA had argued that the spending caps at issue were necessary to preserve a distinction between amateur and pro sports.

I'm calling this 'good news' because I personally believe it's a big load of horseshit that the NCAA can pockets billions of dollars while telling students they cannot benefit in any material way from their time making money for the NCAA. I think it's wrong that coaches are among the highest paid employees of most state governments while players cannot even eat a hot dog if the school didn't provide it.

The NCAA itself opposed this in court, but some schools stand to actually benefit from this. Schools can now offer additional benefits to players in an effort to lure them, for example, beyond what is currently allowed under the NCAA's one-size-fits-all ruleset.

Today's ruling does not fling open the door to students getting paid to sign autographs or appear in television commercials, but that could be coming in the not too distant future.

Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said Gorsuch's opinion for the Court "repeatedly describes itself as modest, but it's likely to be anything but."

"As Justice Kavanaugh's concurrence poignantly notes, by ruling against the NCAA here, the justices have effectively undercut the central justification the NCAA uses for any number of practices that wouldn't fly in other industries," Vladeck said Monday.

"The floodgates are now open to an array of claims from student-athletes -- and the NCAA's amateurism-centric business model is likely to face far larger and more wide-ranging challenges in the near future," Vladeck added.

This would not be the first time that Justice Gorsuch has tried to write a limited opinion that leads to wider consequences. That's starting to look like his thing.