Supreme Court rules against NCAA caps on student-athlete education-related gifts and benefits

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against the NCAA in a major case involving whether it violates anti-trust law by capping what student-athletes can receive by way of education-related gifts and benefits.

The case is one of the biggest tests in decades for the NCAA and its limits on athlete compensation, and it could dramatically alter the nature of college sports.

The court ruled unanimously against the NCAA limits, upholding lower court decisions. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion.

PHOTO: An NCAA logo flag at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., in this Jun 11, 2021 file photo.

This hands a win to a group of former NCAA Division 1 football and basketball players who challenged the caps, but stops short of a sweeping decision allowing salaries for college athletes.

The case involves education-related benefits only: computers, paid-internships, tutoring, study abroad programs, musical instruments, etc. The NCAA had a $5,000 cap on what schools could provide above and beyond free tuition, room and board.

It is a blow to the NCAA which claimed lifting the cap would open the floodgates to other compensation.

PHOTO: The Supreme Court building stands in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2020.

“By permitting colleges and universities to offer enhanced education-related benefits, its decision may encourage scholastic achievement and allow student-athletes a measure of compensation more consistent with the value they bring to their schools. Still, some will see this as a poor substitute for fuller relief. At the same time, others will think the district court went too far by undervaluing the social benefits associated with amateur athletics,” the court’s decision read.

“For our part, though, we can only agree with the Ninth Circuit: “‘The national debate about amateurism in college sports is important. But our task as appellate judges is not to resolve it. Nor could we. Our task is simply to review the district court judgment through the appropriate lens of antitrust law.’” 958 F. 3d, at 1265. That review persuades us the district court acted within the law’s bounds,” Justice Gorsuch wrote.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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