Supreme Court Sides With Student Athletes Over NCAA on Compensation in College Sports

The Supreme Court voted unanimously on Monday in support of former student athletes in a case against the NCAA over rules limiting certain compensation, the Associated Press reported.

The ruling determined that NCAA limits can't be enforced on athletes education-related benefits who play Division I basketball and football.

NCAA rules said students cannot be paid and scholarships are capped at the cost of attending the school. The NCAA defended the rules saying they were necessary to preserve the amateur nature of college sports.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Senate Hearing NCAA Athlete NIL Case
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey shakes hands with NCAA president Mark Emmert before a hearing on Capitol Hill on June 9. A Supreme Court ruling determined that NCAA limits that said students cannot be paid and scholarships are capped at the cost of attending the school can't be enforced on athletes education-related benefits who play Division I basketball and football. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court that the NCAA sought "immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws," which the court declined to grant.

But the former athletes who brought the case, including former West Virginia University football player Shawne Alston, argued that the NCAA's rules on education-related compensation were unfair and violate federal antitrust law designed to promote competition. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling barring the NCAA from enforcing those rules.

The case doesn't decide whether students can be paid salaries. Instead, the ruling will help determine whether schools decide to offer athletes tens of thousands of dollars in education-related benefits for things such as computers, graduate scholarships, tutoring, study abroad and internships.

As a result of the ruling, the NCAA itself can't bar schools from sweetening their offers to Division I basketball and football players with additional education-related benefits. But individual athletic conferences can still set limits if they choose. A lawyer for the former athletes had said before the ruling that he believed that if his clients won, "very many schools" would ultimately offer additional benefits.

The NCAA had argued that a ruling for the athletes could lead to a blurring of the line between college and professional sports, with colleges trying to lure talented athletes by offering over-the-top education benefits worth thousands of dollars. Even without the court's ruling, however, changes seem on the way for how college athletes are compensated. The NCAA is trying to amend its rules to allow athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses. That would allow athletes to earn money for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsement and personal appearances. For some athletes, those amounts could dwarf any education-related benefits.

The players associations of the NFL, the NBA and the WNBA had all urged the justices to side with the ex-athletes, as did the Biden administration.

Supreme Court
This June 8, file photo shows the Supreme Court in Washington. The ruling should help determine whether schools decide to offer athletes tens of thousands of dollars in education-related benefits to student athletes. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press