Cavano calls for a ban on direct payments, and NCAA athletes win education subsidies with a 9-0 advantage

Opinion analysis

On Monday, the Supreme Court reshaped the relationship between colleges and athletes participating in college Opinion of Judge Neil Gossac, The justices unanimously ruled that the National University Sports Association cannot prohibit its member schools from providing certain forms of education-related benefits to athletes, such as paid graduate internships, graduate scholarships, or free laptops or musical instruments.

Although the decision does not involve paying cash to college athletes, it may pave the way for a future Supreme Court ruling on whether college athletes should be able to make money through sports — directly from their universities or through profitable endorsement deals. In a consensual opinion, Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the NCAA’s policy prohibiting such compensation “raised serious issues under the antitrust law.”

Monday’s decision NCAA v. Alstom Ended the dispute that began seven years ago, when it was a class action lawsuit against NCAA and major college sports conferences, brought by athletes who participated in I-level football and basketball games. According to NCAA regulations, universities can usually provide scholarships, including tuition fees, to athletes if they meet NCAA qualifications, and allow them to pay basic expenses such as textbooks, board and lodging. But most other forms of compensation are prohibited.

The athletes argued in their lawsuit that the NCAA restrictions violated the federal antitrust law, prohibiting athletes from obtaining fair market compensation for their labor. A federal district court in California partially agreed: It ruled that NCAA can restrict benefits that are not related to education (such as cash wages), but it prohibits NCAA from restricting education-related benefits. After the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, the NCAA and the Games appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court agreed to accept the case at the end of last year.

In a 35-page decision, Gorsuch first proposed which legal test should be applied to the NCAA’s rules restricting athletes’ compensation. The district court adopted the most common test method in the antitrust law, the “rule of reason.” The NCAA argued that a less rigorous test should be used because the association and its members are “joint ventures” and must work together to “provide consumers with the benefits of interscholastic sports.” But Gorsuch pointed out that the less rigorous test only applies to extreme situations, because it is easy to determine what impact the agreement will have on competition. Gorsuch emphasized that this is not the case here, because the NCAA and its members control the market served by college athletes. He concluded that the potential anti-competitive impact of NCAA restrictions requires a full investigation.

Gorsuch also rejected NCAA’s efforts to rely on the Supreme Court’s 1984 ruling. NCAA v. University of Oklahoma Regents, Involving antitrust challenges to the NCAA TV University football game plan. The NCAA stated that the language in the decision indicated that it “plays a key role in maintaining the respected amateur tradition in college sports” and that “sufficient space is needed to perform this role” as evidence that the NCAA’s action to protect amateurs is Is in full compliance with the Federal Antitrust Law. However, Gorsuch pointed out that compensation is limited to Board of Directors case. Although the ruling “may indicate that the court should be cautious in evaluating NCAA’s restrictions on student-athlete compensation,” Gorsuch observed, it certainly does not mean that the court “must reflexively reject all challenges to NCAA compensation restrictions.”

Regardless, Gorsuch went on to say that since 1984, the reality of college sports has changed significantly. Now, I-level football and basketball projects generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and the NCAA has established funds for college athletes, each of which allocates more than $100 million. year.

Gorsuch also refuted the NCAA’s argument that the restrictions on pay are less subject to strict scrutiny because its job of protecting amateurs in college sports effectively means that NCAA and its members are not commercial enterprises. He stated that the association seemed to seek “an exemption from some sort of judicial provision” under the federal antitrust law only because its restrictions involved “the intersection of higher education, sports, and money.” Gorsuch said that the NCAA is free to present this argument to Congress, which is currently considering legislation to allow (among other things) college athletes to reach endorsement agreements. Efforts to develop federal standards are in response to a state law scheduled to go into effect on July 1st, which permits provision for college athletes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas Endorsement agreement.

Gorsuch also refuted the NCAA’s argument that the district court’s ruling would “micro-manage” the organization’s business. Gorsuch explained that the district court only prohibited the NCAA from imposing restrictions on education-related benefits. He added that this was done only after concluding that “relaxing these restrictions will not blur the distinction between college sports and professional sports, thereby undermining the demand for college sports”-this is the cornerstone of the NCAA argument. In addition, Gorsuch pointed out that the District Court gave the NCAA “considerable leeway” in deciding how to define education-related benefits.

In his last paragraph, Gorsuch outlines the dilemma facing the court. He suggested that some people might think that the district court should go further, while “others would think that the district court underestimated the social benefits associated with amateur athletics and went too far.” But in the end, Gorsuch emphasized that the highest The court agreed with the opinion of the Ninth Circuit, although “[t]”The national debate about amateurism in college sports is important,” and it is not the job of the Supreme Court to resolve it. Instead, Gorsuch observed that the court’s job was to determine whether the district court correctly applied the principles of antitrust law to the dispute—Gorsuch concluded that it did.

Kavanaugh fully joined the court’s opinion, but he also wrote a separate consent opinion questioning the legality of the remaining restrictions on the welfare of college athletes. He made it clear that although these restrictions were not submitted to the court in this case, Monday’s ruling established a framework for future challenges to these restrictions — and, he wrote, there are “serious questions” about whether these rules are “passable”. . frame.Kavanaugh, an avid sports fan Who coached his daughter’s basketball team but failed to join the college basketball team Although an undergraduate at Yale University, he acknowledged that college sports includes “an important tradition that has become part of the American structure.” However, he warned that “NCAA is not above the law.”

This article is Originally published in Howe on the Court.

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