The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the NCAA cannot bar modest payments to student athletes (Pictures: Reuters)
The Supreme Court has unanimously sided with a group of former college athletes and ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cannot bar small payments to them.
In its ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court said that the NCAA’s limits on benefits related to education offered by colleges to athletes in Division I basketball and football are not enforceable.
NCAA rules currently cap the amount of scholarship funds colleges can offer at the cost of attending the college, and do not allow students to be paid. The NCAA claims that its rules are needed to keep college sports amateur instead of professional in nature.
However, former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston and other former athletes claimed the rules violated federal antitrust law meant to encourage competition.
Supporters of the students pointed to the fact that college sports garner billions of dollars from television contracts, tickets and merchandise and that athletes were being prevented from making money with their talent.
Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion but in a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated that the NCAA was acting ‘above the law’.
‘Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate,’ Kavanaugh wrote. ‘And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law.’
The students’ lawyer, Hagens Berman managing partner Steve Berman, in a statement obtained by CNN said that the decision represented ‘the fair treatment college athletes deserve’.
‘It is our hope that this victory in the battle for college athletes’ rights will carry on a wave of justice uplifting further aspects of athlete compensation,’ Berman stated.
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