The Supreme Court Rules on NCAA Athlete Compensation
In the United States, college athletes go through rigorous training and other demands for no pay. The NCAA is the organization that oversees college athletics and makes/enforces the rules for the players. In a recent US Supreme Court Ruling, the court unanimously ruled against the NCAA on their rule that prohibited college athletes from receiving modest, education-related compensation, payments, or benefits.
This ruling does not mean that student-athletes can now get paid a salary, but schools can now offer student-athletes certain benefits such as scholarships for graduate school, computer equipment, access to paid internships, study abroad opportunities, and more. The plaintiffs argued that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by restricting athletes from receiving fair-market compensation for their work.
The at the NCAA argued that the athletes are amateurs and that compensating student-athletes would blur the line between college and professional sports, affecting the demand for college sports. The court ruled that these NCAA rules are not necessary to differentiate college and professional sports.
The Court’s Ruling
Justice Neil Gorsuch, the author of this Supreme Court opinion, stated that the NCAA “seeks immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws”.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a separate concurring opinion on the matter. Justice Kavanaugh is an avid sports fan who coaches his daughter’s basketball team and once tried out for the Yale basketball team, so he seems to be quite passionate about the matter. In his article, he wrote that “Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on a theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate”. He also added that “The NCAA is not above the law.”
The ruling was on a fairly narrow question but could open the doors to a much larger ruling down the road involving non-academic compensation to athletes.
Another massive change that will benefit student-athletes is coming on July 1st. At least six states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas) will pass laws that will allow college athletes to make money from their name, image, and likeness. This will allow players to do things like sign endorsement deals, participate in paid promotions on social media, sell autographs, and more. The NCAA is also trying to come up with their own rules which will allow college athletes to make money off of their name, image, or likeness.
This is potentially a groundbreaking ruling for college sports and could change the landscape of recruiting and where athletes decide to attend college.
Read our blog for more updates on topics regarding international business, law, and more!
If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, contact us!