(AP) — The Supreme Court
unanimously ruled on Monday that the NCAA
cannot enforce certain rules limiting the education-related benefits that colleges offer athletes, such as computers and graduate scholarships, in a decision that could help push changes in college athletics.
The case does not decide whether or not students can be paid salaries; rather, the ruling will help determine whether or not schools
decide to offer athletes tens of thousands of dollars in benefits such as tutoring, study abroad, and internships.
The Supreme Court agreed with a group of former college athletes that NCAA restrictions on the educational benefits that colleges can provide to Division I basketball
players cannot be enforced.
The NCAA sought “immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws,” which the court declined to grant, according to Justice Neil Gorsuch.
According to current NCAA rules, students cannot be paid, and the amount of scholarship money
that colleges can offer is limited to the cost of attending the school. The NCAA has defended its rules as necessary to preserve the amateur nature
of college sports
However, 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 violated federal antitrust law designed to promote competition, and the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that barred the NCAA from enforcing those rules.
As a result of the ruling, the NCAA cannot prohibit schools from sweetening their offers to Division I basketball and football players with additional education-related benefits; however, individual athletic conferences can still set limits if they wish.
The NCAA argued that a ruling in favor of the athletes would result in a blurring of the line between college and professional sports, with colleges attempting to entice talented athletes by offering over-the-top education benefits worth thousands of dollars. Even without the court's ruling, however, changes to how college athletes are compensated appear to be on the way.
, NBA, and WNBA
players associations, as well as the Biden administration
, all urged the justices to rule in favor of the ex-athletes.