Earned revenue would first go to the student-athletes that make the game possible. But it wasn’t.
Having proffered off the labor of mostly Black student-athletes for years, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that the NCAA had violated antitrust law in a case involving the permitted education-related benefits that college athletes can receive.
The case was brought when current and former student-athletes who played college football, as well as men’s and women’s college basketball, sued the NCAA and 11 conferences. In the lawsuit, it claimed that the rules restricting compensations violated antitrust laws.
On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the NCAA and its member colleges were suppressing the pay of student-athletes — many of whom are African American and from lower-income backgrounds — who collectively generate billions of dollars in revenues for colleges every year.
Where this mountainous amount of money seemingly goes before the athletes themselves point to college presidents, athletic directors, coaches, conference commissioners and NCAA executives. Leaving little or nothing at all left in payment for the players.
In the court’s opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch made clear that “although the Court does not weigh in on the ultimate legality of the NCAA’s remaining compensation rules, the Court’s decision establishes how any such rules should be analyzed going forward.” After their decision, the “NCAA’s remaining compensation rules should receive ordinary “rule of reason” scrutiny under the antitrust laws.”
“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,” wrote Gorsuch at the end.
In response to the Supreme Court decision, NCAA President Mark Emmert said on Monday that the NCAA “remains committed to supporting NIL benefits for student-athletes.” Adding “we remain committed to working with Congress to chart a path forward.”
While the Supreme Court didn’t directly address the fact of whether athletes may earn money off their names, images and likenesses, their decision provides for a gradual increase in how college student-athletes can be compensated.