The Supreme Court unanimously sided with college athletes on Monday in the landmark antitrust case National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston et al., ruling that the NCAA’s restrictions on players’ education-related compensation violate national antitrust laws, according to CNBC.
As a result of the decision, students who play Division I basketball and football will now be able to receive educational benefits such as computers, tutoring, paid internships, study abroad funding, and graduate scholarships. The ruling also eliminates caps on disability insurance, so injured athletes are guaranteed future income if they suffer a career-ending injury before they are able to play professionally, according to NPR.
“Put simply, this suit involves admitted horizontal price fixing in a market where the defendants exercise monopoly control,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court. “To the extent it means to propose a sort of judicially ordained immunity from the terms of the Sherman Act for its restraints of trade — that we should overlook its restrictions because they happen to fall at the intersection of higher education, sports, and money — we cannot agree.”
The decision concerned only education-related compensation, and did not address the ongoing policy debate around other NCAA regulations that prohibit athletes from earning money from their “name, image, and likeness” (NIL). There has been enough pushback against NIL restrictions that most states have already passed or are considering legislation to ban them. Those laws are set to take effect in at least six states this July.
Despite its specific scope, the ruling presents a significant threat to the NCAA’s current business model. College sports make billions of dollars from ticket sales, television contracts, and merchandise. The court’s unanimous decision suggests it may be open to further challenging the NCAA rules that prevent any of that money from going to the players themselves.