ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

High court sides with ex-athletes in NCAA compensation case

Jun 21, 2021, 9:01 AM
The Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)...
The Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court decided unanimously Monday that the NCAA can’t enforce rules limiting education-related benefits — like computers and paid internships — that colleges offer to student athletes.

The case doesn’t decide whether students can be paid salaries. Instead, the ruling will help determine whether schools decide to offer athletes tens of thousands of dollars in those benefits for things including tutoring, study abroad programs and graduate scholarships.

The high court agreed with a group of former college athletes that NCAA limits on the education-related benefits that colleges can offer athletes who play Division I basketball and football are unenforceable.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court that the NCAA sought “immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws,” which the court declined to grant.

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

But the former athletes who brought the case, including former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston, argued that the NCAA’s rules on education-related compensation were unfair and violate federal antitrust law designed 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 can’t bar schools from sweetening their offers to Division I basketball and football players with additional education-related benefits. But individual athletic conferences can still set limits if they choose. A lawyer for the former athletes had said before the ruling that he believed that if his clients won, “very many schools” would ultimately offer additional benefits.

The NCAA had argued that a ruling for the athletes could lead to a blurring of the line between college and professional sports, with colleges trying to lure talented athletes by offering over-the-top education benefits worth thousands of dollars. Even without the court’s ruling, however, changes seem on the way for how college athletes are compensated. The NCAA is trying to amend its rules to allow athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses. That would allow athletes to earn money for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsement and personal appearances. For some athletes, those amounts could dwarf any education-related benefits.

The players associations of the NFL, the NBA and the WNBA had all urged the justices to side with the ex-athletes, as did the Biden administration.

Penguin Air

Arizona State Basketball

Pac-12 Conference commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks at Pac-12 NCAA college football media day Fr...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12, Larry Fitzgerald-backed startup to monetize highlights for NIL

The Pac-12 is entering the NIL space by partnering with a startup that will help athletes earn money from their personalized game highlights.
4 days ago
Basketballs are rolled off the court during the NCAAB game at McKale Center on January 03, 2022 in ...
Nikash Nath

CBS Sports: Wildcats among top 30 best 2021-22 sports programs

CBS Sports released rankings Monday with over 130 colleges ordered on the success of their athletic programs. 
8 days ago
Arizona State linebacker Kyle Soelle carries out the state flag as the team takes the field to face...
Arizona Sports

State of the Sun Devils podcast: What’s next for the Pac-12?

Arizona Sports introduces State of the Sun Devils, an Arizona State podcast hosted by Jesse Morrison, Jeremy Schnell and ASU reporter Jake Anderson.
10 days ago
Pac-12 logo on the court after a college basketball game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and t...
Arizona Sports

Report: Talks between Pac-12, Big 12 end without future partnership

The Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences have concluded talks without a future partnership, reports ESPN's Pete Thamel.
21 days ago
Incoming Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yorkman smiles during a news conference opening the NCAA college...
Arizona Sports

Big 12 ‘exploring all options’ when asked about potential Pac-12 additions

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yorkmack said Wednesday that the conference is open to expansion when asked about the Pac-12.
26 days ago
Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks at a press conference before the PAC-12 Football Champi...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 breakup amid conference realignment ‘overstated’ at the moment

Nobody is denying that ASU and Arizona, among other teams, could be considering leaving the Pac-12. But it's a holding pattern for now.
27 days ago
High court sides with ex-athletes in NCAA compensation case