WASHINGTON (AP/KETK) – In a ruling that could help push changes in college athletics, the Supreme Court on Monday unanimously sided with a group of former college athletes in a dispute with the NCAA over rules limiting certain compensation.
The high court ruled that NCAA limits on the education-related benefits that colleges can offer athletes who play Division I basketball and football can’t be enforced.
Under current NCAA rules, students cannot be paid, and the scholarship money colleges can offer is capped at the cost of attending the school. The NCAA had defended its rules as necessary to preserve the amateur nature of college sports.
But the former athletes who brought the case, including former West Virginia 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’s decision on Monday affects student athletes who play football and basketball at Stephen F. Austin State University, which is the only Division I college in East Texas.
This ruling also impacts other local students.
Tyler Junior College is not a part of this division, but some of their student athletes later transfer to Division I schools.
NBA superstar and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Jimmy Butler spent his freshman year playing basketball at TJC. Then, he was able to move to Marquette University.
More than 70% of the athletes at TJC move on to Division I programs.
The TJC athletic director, Kevin Vest, said this new ruling could be a game changer.
“I think we’ve been seeing this come down the pike for several months not only with the Austin case but with nil and with the transfer portal and this is probably the first major domino to drop at a federal level,” he mentioned.
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.
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.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.