Education

In the unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court targeted the NCAA’s “amateurism” model

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The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that restrictions on education-related benefits for college athletes violated federal antitrust laws. The opinion, written by Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, is seen as a victory for athletes’ rights and a strong condemnation of the American College Athletic Association’s argument that increasing the welfare of athletes will undermine what it says is the iconic attraction of the company-it Of athletes are considered unpaid amateurs.

case, NCAA v. Alstom, No. 20-512 considers whether the association has the right to limit scholarships to attendance expenses and prohibits universities from providing any additional compensation or benefits, even if they are related to the education of athletes. The Federal District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that scholarships and direct compensation may continue to be restricted, but education-related benefits may be as high as $5,980—the amount the NCAA allows universities to award athletes. Sports achievement.

The NCAA believes that prohibiting such benefits is necessary to maintain the “amateurism” of college sports and prevent wealthy colleges and sports boosters from gaining an unfair advantage when recruiting athletes. But Gorsuch questioned the premise of amateurism in the first paragraph of his opinion. He wrote that the lucrative undertaking of college sports “relies on’amateur’ student athletes, who compete under horizontal restrictions, restricting How does the school compensate for their competition.”

Dionne L. Koller, director of the Sports and Law Center at the University of Baltimore School of Law, said the NCAA has believed for decades that it is the creator and protector of the “magic model” of college sports. Compensate athletes in any way for tarnishing. “It’s nice to see that the court didn’t fall for it,” Kohler said.

Helen Drew, director of the Sports Promotion Center at the University of Buffalo Law School, said the judge was not shaken by the argument that restrictions are necessary to maintain a level playing field. She said that if the NCAA and universities really believe this, they can limit coaches’ salaries, “but it didn’t happen.”

Martin D. Edel, chair of the college sports law practice at the law firm Goulston & Storrs, said that although the ruling was a victory for some college athletes, the scope was relatively narrow. According to the Supreme Court’s decision, restrictions on scholarships and direct compensation still exist, but the judge removed restrictions on education-related benefits.

The court’s opinion also left many unresolved questions, including who defines the meaning of “education-related”. For example, it is clear that universities can provide athletes with a computer, Edel said, but it is not clear whether it is acceptable to provide training to use the computer.

In a press release, the NCAA stated that the decision “points out that NCAA is still free to clarify what is and is not true educational benefits, which is consistent with the NCAA’s mission to support student athletes.”

Edel said that if the NCAA or the sports conference developed these definitions, they may still face the risk of violating antitrust laws. He said that it is better for the association to provide guidance for things that are not in the interests of education, rather than trying to narrowly restrict everything that is acceptable.

There are also potential tax issues for universities and athletes, depending on who or which entity pays for the benefits. Edel said that if a university provided the money, it might give athletes a form of compensation that would qualify them as employees. He said that if sports boosters pay for benefits such as internships or job training, it is not clear who will ensure the legality of the training.

For some advocates of increased athletes’ rights, Monday’s ruling is not enough. “This is a good first step,” said Eddie Cuomo, executive director of the Center for Athletes’ Rights and Equality at the University of California, Riverside.

Comeaux stated that this ruling, especially with the stern consent of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, could open the door-through more legal challenges or legislation-to actually share the funds generated by college sports with athletes who attract fans and TV contracts. .

“How do we ensure that athletes are fairly compensated for their labor?” Cuomo asked. “I think there is a way to do this and keep the difference from professional sports. Of course we need to reimagine the model of college sports.”

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