The Supreme Court this week heard a case that could forever change the future of college sports by deciding if college athletes should be getting paid.
In the case NCAA v. Alston, a group of student athletes led by former West Virginia RB Shawne Alston seeks expanded compensation for players in Division I men’s and women’s basketball, as well as the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The 9th Circuit Court upheld their argument last year. It accused the NCAA of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act with its strict limits on compensation.
In its defense, the NCAA says its rules on compensation for student athletes are necessary to preserve the distinction between college and professional sports. It also claims that it maintains the public’s interest in amateur athletics. Furthermore, the NCAA fears the case will usher in a wave of future lawsuits demanding additional benefits, including direct cash payments.
Opponents have argued that college athletes should be getting paid for all the time and energy they put into sports. It is often at the expense of schoolwork. But it seems clear to me that students would abandon classes altogether if they were getting paid to play sports.
The NCAA has support from major conferences including the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 as well as eight US states, while Alston has support from the Biden Administration, the professional players associations for the NFL, NBA, WNBA, and the NWSL, and eight other US states.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court is expected to side with Alston.
“To pay no salaries to the workers who are making the schools billions of dollars on the theory that consumers want the schools to pay their workers nothing” seems “entirely circular and even somewhat disturbing,” says Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
“It just strikes me as odd that the coaches’ salaries have ballooned…and they’re in the amateur ranks, as are the players,” adds Justice Clarence Thomas.
Complicating matters for the NCAA is a nationwide debate concerning name, image, and likeness legislation. In fact, California and Florida have already passed laws (in violation of NCAA rules) allowing players to earn money through endorsement deals.
Author’s Note: College sports are popular because the players are amateurs. They are real college students who go to class and parties just like everybody else. Free education and a chance at fame should be more than enough compensation for their hard work.