Supreme Court rules against NCAA over athlete compensation: Here’s what you need to know

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The NCAA Division I Council, which votes on rules changes, is set to meet Tuesday and Wednesday. Now that the schools know with this Supreme Court opinion that the NCAA’s dream of an antitrust exemption is off the table, the NIL rules can take shape with that in mind.

On July 1, at least six states’ NIL laws will go into effect. Schools located in states without active NIL laws will still follow NCAA rules for now. It is most certainly going to be chaos, but this is what the NCAA asked for by moving so slowly to evolve.

The NCAA is still waiting for Congress to pass a one-size-fits-all federal solution to NIL, but it should worry that the Supreme Court’s opinion will only embolden Democratic senators to push for broad reform that includes protections for athlete health and safety along with full NIL rights.

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If Justice Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion, which covers the last five pages of the 45-page document, does not embolden senators and college athlete activists in the coming months, nothing will.

“The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels. But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America,” Kavanaugh wrote.

“All of the restaurants in a region cannot come together to cut cooks’ wages on the theory that ‘customers prefer’ to eat food from low-paid cooks. Law firms cannot conspire to cabin lawyers’ salaries in the name of providing legal services out of a ‘love of the law.’ Hospitals cannot agree to cap nurses’ income in order to create a ‘purer’ form of helping the sick. News organizations cannot join forces to curtail pay to reporters to preserve a ‘tradition’ of public-minded journalism. Movie studios cannot collude to slash benefits to camera crews to kindle a ‘spirit of amateurism’ in Hollywood.

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“Price-fixing labor is price-fixing labor. And price-fixing labor is ordinarily a textbook antitrust problem because it extinguishes the free market in which individuals can otherwise obtain fair compensation for their work.”

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