Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA, Says Aid Limits Violate Antitrust Law

In a major decision for college athletics, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that the NCAA can’t block student-athletes from certain forms of education-related aid.

The decision concludes the high-profile case widely known as the Alston case, a civil suit which pitted former West Virginia University football player Shawne Alston and former Cal basketball player Justine Hartman against the NCAA.

Per NBC, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned a lower court decision, ruling that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by limiting how much student-athletes could receive for a range of education-related expenses, including postgraduate scholarships, tutoring, and paid internships.

One very important distinction: the Supreme Court’s ruling covers only those specific education-related expenses. The ruling does not affect whether student-athletes can be directly paid for their names, images, and likenesses. The NCAA has committed to ‘modernizing’ its name, image, and likeness (or NIL) rules, but has not yet changed its rules to allow athletes to earn NIL money.

Multiple state governments, however, have passed laws allowing student-athletes to earn NIL money. That continues to set up a showdown where athletes could accept money and be legal under state law, but still risk a ban for violating NCAA rules. NIL modernization could allow student-athletes (including college swimmers) to accept prize money, sign endorsement deals, or make money through private lessons, swim camps, or other events without giving up their NCAA eligibility.

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ACC
1 month ago

“There are serious questions whether the NCAA’s concurring remaining compensation rules can pass muster under ordinary rule of reason scrutiny. Under the rule of reason, the NCAA must supply a legally valid procompetitive justification for its remaining compensation rules. As I see it, however, the NCAA may lack such a justification.”
-Kavanaugh, Concurring

Although this ruling doesn’t strike down the amateurism rule of the NCAA, it does sound like it wouldn’t survive the Supreme Court either. Seems like it won’t be long now.

BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Will any college sports besides football and basketball survive?

Scoobysnak
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

People are downvoting but it’s a legitimate question

Fred
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

A valid question. Women’s sports because of Title IX will likely be ok, but men’s minor sports cancellation may accelerate; especially where football does not generate the pay day of the Power 5 conferences and where less deep pocket alumni exist.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Fred
1 month ago

I fully expect at some point in the near future to see an AD announce the end of school support for multiple Olympic sports at the varsity level on account of winning the bidding war for one high school football prospect. In fact, I can’t see it playing out any other way.

RUN-DMC
1 month ago

There is no longer a line between professional and amateur sports.

mcphee
Reply to  RUN-DMC
1 month ago

there’s always d3!

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  mcphee
1 month ago

Good point.
Can schools compete in different divisions of the NCAA in different sports? Say Div 1 football and Div 3 swimming?

Admin
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

It almost never happens, however, there are some exceptions:

Each D2 and D3 school are allowed to classify one men’s and one women’s sport at the D1 level, provided they were sponsoring that sport at a D1 level prior to 2011. If a lower division doesn’t sponsor a sport, those schools may also compete at the D1 level (though often these “D1” levels will have a varying designation). We see this in men’s volleyball (D2 and D1 are combined), water polo, rifle, bowling, gymnastics, and skiing most frequently.

For the “one sport” exception, we most frequently see it in ice hockey and wrestling, which are offered at lower levels of the NCAA but where teams often opt up. Especially in… Read more »

jim
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

I don’t know if it’s still the case, but Clarion University was D2 for almost all sports, but D1 for Wrestling i think. If anybody knows Kurt Angle, he was an NCAA D1 Champion, but went to Clarion….a PSAC school in PA known for being D2.

Jeffery
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Just curious what are the 5?

Last edited 1 month ago by Jeffery
Bub
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Yes. A lot of schools are D1 in a certain sport they specialize in and D3 for the rest.

mcphee
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago
Ferb
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Johns Hopkins is a noted example. They compete in D3 for most sports, but are D1 for Lacrosse.

jim
Reply to  mcphee
1 month ago

Ironically, all the money the NCAA gives to D3 stems from D1 revenue….sure NCAA football and Basketball will likely continue to succeed, but the haves will begin to have MORE, and the have nots will begin to have less…and as that matriculates, sports may begin to be lost at schools who lose that battle of recruits.

But if secondary D1 sports are going to become extinct, it’s almost a certainty that D3 sports that the NCAA spend money on to run tournaments and meets/matches will almost certainly be the 1st to fall.

Folks, swimming is in the crosshairs. While I certainly get the ideal of paying athletes for their likeness, and do support some form of compensation, complete ‘Wild West’… Read more »

Xman
Reply to  RUN-DMC
1 month ago

When it comes to Olympic sports in America there is a clear line

College – pays for training travel coaches physical therapy.
Professional – the pro athlete covers it all 🙂

Arisuin
Reply to  RUN-DMC
1 month ago

You don’t think student-athletes should be able to obtain other forms of education related aid and scholarships? They also have lives outside of being an athlete too.

RUN-DMC
Reply to  Arisuin
1 month ago

The power 5 divisions in the NCAA are already corrupt in paying athletes. This ruling will make the corruption worse.

Sport is about money. It’s not about faster, higher, stronger.

Horninco
Reply to  RUN-DMC
1 month ago

But alot of that corrupt money isn’t coming from the schools. It’s coming from outside sources. The schools just turn a blind eye. The problem is that most athletic departments are not self sufficient, and even the few that are, there’s not an excess of money being made to siphon back to players. All that money made on the football players is what’s paying for women’s soccer, swimming, wrestling, crew, track, etc etc

I’m not sure schools should be paying players because that will accelerate the difference between haves and have nots, and may eventually bring down the entire system. This is basically a discussion if about a dozen football teams and a half dozen basketball teams.

Now is… Read more »

Brian
Reply to  Horninco
1 month ago

A lot of the money made from the NCAA basketball tourney goes to things like….putting on NCAA swimming championships

IU Swammer
Reply to  RUN-DMC
1 month ago

Why does that line have to exist? No one cares about the line between professional and amateur sports writers. A freshman in the journalism school can sell an easy on the football team’s prospects for the coming season and no one cares. But the kicker can’t put out a series– unrelated to football– on YouTube because the NCAA owns the kicker’s image and likeness. How does society benefit from this arbitraryness?

Brian
1 month ago

RIP NCAA swimming

NoFlyKick
1 month ago

It does look like a disruptive transition is coming in college sports, and it will be most painful in the low-revenue sports like swimming. On the other hand, what the big-time schools have been doing to the big-time athletes, especially in the big-time sports is just plain exploitation. The athletes put their bodies on the line day after day after day, earning the schools and conferences countless millions of dollars and are told the “compensation” is the tuition scholarship. (which often earns them a degree in a field with extremely low salary expectations.) It happens in our sport too. What kind of “compensation” did Missy Franklin get for an experience that ruined her physically and deprived her of outstanding sponsorship… Read more »

Brian
Reply to  NoFlyKick
1 month ago

She was offered millions in sponsorship opportunities and choose to swim NCAA. If you think it’s exploitation to “only” give scholarships, wait til you hear about high school sports….

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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