Supreme Court strikes a blow at the NCAA monopoly
The U.S. Supreme Court struck a blow against the NCAA cartel unanimously rejecting the college athletic group’s contention that schools were barred from offering a variety of benefits to student athletes beyond those the NCAA approved:
… the high court…upheld an order that will let member schools provide more education-related benefits, including computers, internships and academic achievement awards.
The federal district court order “may encourage scholastic achievement and allow student-athletes a measure of compensation more consistent with the value they bring to their schools,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the Supreme Court.
The lower court ruling lifted some of the NCAA’s compensation limits for student-athletes. It was a partial victory for current and former college football and basketball players who sued to let schools start paying athletes.
The real fireworks, however, came in a concurring opinion from Justice Bret Kavanaugh, who said the NCAA’s ban on schools paying athletes is the next legal domino to fall:
The bottom line is that the NCAA and its member colleges are suppressing the pay of student athletes who collectively generate billions of dollars in revenues for colleges every year. Those enormous sums of money flow to seemingly everyone except the student athletes. College presidents, athletic directors, coaches, conference commissioners, and NCAA executives take in six- and seven-figure salaries. Colleges build lavish new facilities. But the student athletes who generate the revenues, many of whom are African American and from lower-income backgrounds, end up with little or nothing.
Everyone agrees that the NCAA can require student athletes to be enrolled students in good standing. But the NCAA’s business model of using unpaid student athletes to generate billions of dollars in revenue for the colleges raises serious questions under the antitrust laws. In particular, it is highly questionable whether the NCAA and its member colleges can justify not paying student athletes a fair share of the revenues on the circular theory that the defining characteristic of college sports is that the colleges do not pay student athletes. And if that asserted justification is unavailing, it is not clear how the NCAA can legally defend its remaining compensation rules.
It can’t. And with the right challenge, those monopoly rules against paying athletes will crumble – as they should.