EXPLAINER: The Supreme Court ruling against the NCAA

Jun 21, 2021, 11:12 AM | Updated: 11:46 pm

A Supreme Court ruling that went against the NCAA could open the door to schools using unlimited benefits tied to education to recruit top athletes.

The NCAA’s loss in a 9-0 decision will not directly lead to play-for-pay in college athletics, but it did clear a path for future legal challenges that could be even more impactful.

Here’s what to know:

THE CASE

The original lawsuit brought by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston challenged the NCAA’s right to cap compensation to Division I football and basketball players at the value of a scholarship.

The lower court’s decision went against the NCAA. In a narrow ruling, a judge said the NCAA could not cap benefits to athletes that are tied directly to education. The court left it up to the NCAA to define educational benefits but the NCAA appealed and lost.

The case was the first involving the NCAA heard by the Supreme Court since 1984.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

They are some of the costs associated with being a student, costs a school could pick up for an athlete. Examples include a study abroad program, a paid internship or an athlete’s school computer.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

The ruling doesn’t mandate that schools pay athletes. It only prevents the NCAA from standing in the way of educational benefits.

Schools and even conferences could impose their own rules or caps, but plaintiffs’ lawyers believe teams competing against each other on the field will look for ways to gain an advantage through these benefits and recruits will capitalize on the market.

WHEN CAN ATHLETES BEGIN TAKING ADVANTAGE?

Schools could start offering athletes in those high profile sports things like internships, laptops or even cash bonuses tied to academics or graduation effective immediately.

Still, it is more likely that conferences, schools and even the NCAA will take time to clarify the original ruling and come up with some guidelines and definitions about what is permitted. Overall value, though, cannot be capped.

THE NCAA’S BIG PROBLEM

The lower court’s ruling itself is not the NCAA’s biggest headache. The Supreme Court’s decision also left the NCAA open to more legal challenges and stripped it of one of its best defenses.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority decision that the 1984 Board of Regents case, which went against the NCAA but also gave the association some cover against antitrust law, no longer need be adhered to by courts in future cases.

“It’s certainly notable that there was unanimous opinion that Board of Regents does not support the NCAA’s restrictions on athlete compensation,” said Gabe Feldman, director of Tulane’s sports law program. “That was the key argument in every case the NCAA had made (in court). Not only that Board of Regents supports it, but that Board of Regents means that all NCAA rules are essentially legal.

“That’s the language they were hoping to get from the court. Instead they got that the language means nothing. Board of Regents provides no support.”

Feldman said unless the NCAA can get some type of antitrust exemption from Congress the lawsuits might never stop. The NCAA has already been asking for protection from Congress in the form of a federal law that would regulate the way athletes can be compensated for use of their names, images and likenesses.

“The silver lining for the NCAA — it’s a faint silver lining — is that this theoretically strengthens their argument in Congress that if they don’t get an antitrust exemption they’re going to get sued into oblivion,” Feldman said. “And it’s only a matter of time before antitrust law destroys the NCAA’s vision of amateurism.”

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://APpodcasts.com

___

More AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Japan players jubilate at the end of the World Cup group E soccer match between Japan and Spain, at...
Associated Press

Japan summons samurai spirit against Croatia at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Japan defender Yuto Nakatomo has told his teammates they’ll need to show “samurai spirit” in Monday’s round-of-16 match against Croatia at the World Cup. And they’ll need another quality that Nakatomo learned playing for almost a decade in Italy, mostly with Inter Milan. “Coraggio,” Nakatomo said. “We need to play with […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Lawrence hangs on to win South African Open

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thriston Lawrence held on to win his home South African Open despite a final-round 2-over 74 at the Blair Atholl course on Sunday. Lawrence started the day with a two-shot lead over Clement Sordet of France and despite extending his advantage to five strokes early on the back nine, the South African […]
1 day ago
Former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger stands on the tribune before the World Cup group G soccer match ...
Associated Press

FIFA official Wenger knocks teams protesting at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA official Arsène Wenger took a shot at World Cup teams who tried to make political statements in Qatar, saying Sunday they lacked focus for their first games. Wenger said teams who had a good opening game were mentally ready to focus on the competition and “not on political demonstration.” The […]
1 day ago
Brazil's Neymar applauds fans at the end of the World Cup group G soccer match between Cameroon and...
Associated Press

Brazil waits on Neymar for South Korea game at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Whether Neymar is in the lineup, on the bench or resting for a third consecutive game will depend on how he performs in Brazil’s last training session ahead of its round-of-16 match against South Korea on Monday at the World Cup. The Brazil star missed two group-stage matches with a right […]
1 day ago
Weston McKennie of the United States leaves the pitch at the end of the World Cup round of 16 socce...
Associated Press

American soccer success in World Cup remains a dream

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — American soccer success in the World Cup remains a dream. The U.S. team looked better in this year’s World Cup, but the results were the same as in 2010 and 2014. The Americans were eliminated in the round of 16 following a 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Saturday. “We’ve shown […]
1 day ago
Australia's Aziz Behich is comforted after losing the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Ar...
Associated Press

What’s next for Australia after World Cup exit?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Australia’s World Cup adventure came to an end against a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina. A 2-1 loss at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium matched its best-ever performance at soccer’s biggest tournament by reaching the round of 16 for only the second time in its history. EXPECTATION VS. PERFORMANCE Drawn in Group D […]
1 day ago
EXPLAINER: The Supreme Court ruling against the NCAA