The Supreme Court on Monday handed Division I college athletes a unanimous victory in their battle against the National Collegiate Athletic Association over caps it sought to impose on education-related compensation.
The court voted 9-0 in favor of upholding the rulings of lower courts finding that antitrust laws prevented the NCAA from restricting payments to athletes for items such as musical instruments or as compensation for internships. The judges dismissed the NCAA’s argument that their players’ amateur status could not be maintained if they could receive payment, even for education-related expenses.
“Simply put, this lawsuit is a recognized horizontal price-fixing in a market where the defendants exercise monopoly control,” wrote Judge Neil Gorsuch for the court.
The Conservative judge, a representative of former President Donald Trump, wrote that it was “unclear what exactly the NCAA is looking for”.
“Inasmuch as it means to propose some sort of court-ordered immunity from the Sherman Act’s provisions for its trade restrictions – that we should overlook its restrictions because they happen to be at the intersection of higher education, sports and money – we can’t agree,” wrote Gorsuch.
The result was largely expected after an oral hearing in March. The decision upheld a federal district court injunction prohibiting the NCAA from restricting “education-related compensation and benefits.” The US 9th Court of Appeals previously approved the injunction.
In approving the injunction, Gorsuch wrote that the NCAA can ask lawmakers to work out an exemption for it.
“The NCAA is free to argue that ‘because of the special properties of’ [its] In certain industries’ it should be exempted from the normal application of antitrust laws – but that appeal is’ properly addressed to Congress’, “Gorsuch wrote.
“Congress was also not immune to such requests. It has changed the antitrust laws for certain industries in the past and may do so again in the future,” wrote Gorsuch. “But until Congress says otherwise, the only law it has asked us to enforce is the Sherman Act, and that law is based solely on an assumption: ‘Competition is the best way to allocate resources’ in the nation’s economy. “
The case was originally brought by Shawne Alston, a former West Virginia running back, and other student athletes. The dispute known as the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. v. Alston, No. 20-512, is regardless of the ongoing controversy over the NCAA rules that prevent athletes from getting paid to gamble or get paid for advertising contracts.
The latter regulations have not yet been submitted to the Supreme Court and the opinion of the court has not compromised their legality.
However, Trump-appointed Judge Brett Kavanaugh suggested, in ardent agreement with Monday’s opinion, that these rules could also violate antitrust law. He wrote that “the NCAA is not above the law” and that “the NCAA’s business model is completely illegal in almost every other industry in America.”
“Everyone agrees that the NCAA can require student athletes to be enrolled as full students.
He added that it is “very questionable whether the NCAA and its member colleges can justify failing to pay student athletes a fair share of the revenue, which is based on the circular theory that the defining characteristic of college sport is that the College student athletes don’t pay. “
“And if that alleged justification fails, it is not clear how the NCAA can legally defend its remaining compensation rules,” wrote Kavanaugh.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the White House supported the Supreme Court ruling, which she believed recognized that “the hard work of athletes should not be exploited.”
“The president believes that everyone should be fairly rewarded for their work,” said Psaki.