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SCOTUS to the rescue of student-athletes

By a vote of 9-0, the US Supreme court unanimously ruled in the NCAA vs Alston case that student-athletes can receive education-related compensation. These included laptops, scholarships, etc.

The plaintiff, current and former athletes alleged, that since its creation in 1906, the NCAA has prevented college athletes from getting compensation for their labor. According to them, the institution and its members violated the Sherman Act. The Sherman Act is a United States antitrust law, which prescribes the rule of free competition among those engaged in commerce. It was argued that the NCAA violated the act when it denied the compensation that colleges and universities must offer their student-athletes.

During its hearing in the district court, the NCAA argued for an exemption from the Sherman Act. If not an exemption, they wanted to set their own rules. The association claimed that some of its practices were justified and were done to maintain the “amateurship” in sports. For example, its price-fixing agreements were justified because compensation for college athletes would blur the line between professionalism and amateurism. The district court while announcing its decision, partially accepted this argument. They gave NCAA permission to ban direct, unlimited compensation for athletes. Furthermore, the court also ruled that the association cannot forbid colleges from awarding education-related benefits to student-athletes. While the plaintiffs accepted the decision, the association moved to SCOTUS or in other words the Supreme Court of the United States.

During the Supreme Court hearing, Justice Neil Gorsuch gave the athletes a clean victory calling the district court’s decision consistent. They declined the association’s request to exempt it from the Sherman Act. The reason for the same was stated that organizations that serve “uniquely important social objectives” do not get any “special dispensation” to ignore the law. Even though the association might be right in protecting amateurism in sports, they cannot restrain or harm the rights of any athlete.


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