On June 21, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of college athletes in their dispute with the NCAA over caps on certain education-related benefits. In a 9-0 decision, the Court affirmed the ruling of the Ninth Circuit that the NCAA’s restrictions on certain education-related benefits to college athletes violates anti-trust laws. Although college athletes will not receive salaries tied to their participation in athletics, they will be able to receive compensation for education-related activities and expenses—like internships, computers, and study abroad programs.
While the NCAA has defended its caps on education-related benefits as necessary to preserve amateurism in college sports, Justice Gorsuch, who wrote for the Court, stated that the NCAA is not immune from anti-trust laws like any other business. Significantly, Justice Kavanaugh authored a blistering concurring opinion in which he went further and questioned the NCAA’s entire model of uncompensated amateur athletics. Not only did Justice Kavanaugh state that the NCAA’s business model would be illegal in virtually any other industry, but he raised significant doubts as to whether NCAA institutions should be allowed to rake in billions of dollars by using unpaid student athletes.