The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the NCAA cannot limit the compensation that student-athletes can receive, as long as it is related to their education.
In a 9-0 ruling, the court upheld a lower court ruling that expanded education-related benefits for U.S. college athletes beyond athletic scholarships. Such benefits could include free computers, graduate school tuition, study abroad programs, musical instruments and tutoring.
The ruling allows schools to offer such perks to compete for the attention of college-bound athletes.
The NCAA determines the rules and regulations of U.S. collegiate competitions at schools across the country, including restrictions on athlete compensation. The NCAA argued in court that such limits help maintain the amateur aspect of college sports and distinguish it from professional athletics.
Despite this argument, the high court determined that the regulations are anticompetitive and violate the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prevents organizations from holding a monopoly over a market.
The court did not address other issues that critics of the NCAA and previous lawsuits had raised, such as the organization’s rule that athletes cannot be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness.
Public support has grown in recent years for such compensation, which athletes could receive through opportunities such as brand deals or paid appearances. In fact, the NCAA is in the process of amending its rules to allow this without regulation.
Members of Congress and several states legislators are also proposing varying levels of change to the compensation of NCAA athletes.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, who penned the opinion for the court, wrote that in most other U.S. industries, the NCAA’s business model would be illegal.
“Price-fixing labor is ordinarily a textbook antitrust problem because it extinguishes the free market in which individuals can otherwise obtain fair compensation for their work,” Gorsuch wrote.
The Biden administration officially expressed its support for student-athletes in March, when it filed a brief with the Supreme Court detailing why it agreed with the lower court ruling.