‘Not above the law’: SCOTUS rules UNANIMOUSLY against NCAA over antitrust violations
NCAA schools make millions of dollars off their star athletes, who don’t see even a fraction of the profits their performances generate, SCOTUS ruled in a unanimous decision on Monday in the case NCAA v Alston, upholding a 2020 Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruling. Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the opinion, while Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a broader opinion in support of the decision.
Enumerating a half-dozen traditions associated with the NCAA’s first division, Kavanaugh nevertheless argued that these rituals alone could not justify the association’s decision to build a massive money-raising behemoth on the backs of ‘amateur’ student athletes who are not fairly compensated. The justice continued, pointing out that “nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers fair market rate.”
Under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law.
Monday’s decision, which countered a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court in 2020, stemmed from a 10-day bench trial that took place in 2018. Former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston was the initial plaintiff in the case, which touched on whether the NCAA had the right to place limits on compensation for student athletes. These limits would include paying athletes to study abroad, supplying financial aid in order for athletes to attend vocational schools, internship opportunities, and other non-financial perks sometimes offered to student athletes.
Gorsuch made it clear that the court’s decision did not translate to enforcing compensation requirements on student athletes. It will merely mean that the administration and athletic programs should be left up to the individual school, rather than forcing all universities to offer the exact same perks.Also on rt.com As US declares Juneteenth new slavery-ending holiday, Supreme Court rejects lawsuit by SLAVES in Africa
The amount of money generated by collegiate sports varies widely depending on the school. The University of California made over $480,000 on their athletic program, while Harvard University netted $429,000 the same year, according to the SCOTUS decision.
Justice Kavanaugh, in his agreement with Gorsuch's findings, specifically disparaged what he called the NCAA’s “circular” argument, noting that the idea that “colleges may decline to pay student athletes because the defining feature of college sports, according to the NCAA, is that the student athletes are not paid.” Such incoherent reasoning would be “flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America,” the judge wrote, pointing out that while student athletes received no monetary payments at all in most cases, the NCAA, administrators, and other individuals profiting off the work of the athletes. Gorsuch commented that some form of collective bargaining would be superior to the current model of college sports in which the student exhausts body and mind while administrators cash in.
The NCAA has reacted to the decision with its President Mark Emmert saying that the association remains “committed to working with Congress to chart a path forward, which is a point the Supreme Court expressly stated in its ruling.”
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