Yesterday, the US Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated ruling in NCAA vs. Alston. The court does not often get involved in college sports, so the case and subsequent ruling received a lot of attention in the media. At issue was educational benefits to scholarship athletes in addition to tuition, room, and board. Post graduate internships and laptops are two of the benefits that fall under this description, and both were frequently mentioned in media reporting on the case. The district court ruled that restrictions on such benefits were a violation of antitrust law. The NCAA disagreed and appealed to the Supreme Court. Arguments took place on March 31st of this year. After the case was argued, most observers assumed that the NCAA would lose badly. This came to pass yesterday when the court ruled 9-0 in favor of Alston. The decision was narrowly decided, and the NCAA tried to spin it positively (while also changing the subject), but it represents a major change to the way the NCAA and its member schools will do business in the future.
The Alston case has been in the news the same time as major discussions about name, image, and likeness (NIL) have dominated college sports due to the impending effective dates of laws allowing athletes to profit from NIL for the first time. Alston and NIL issues are not directly related, but both have the potential to reshape what athletes can earn with their athletic abilities. A major difference between the two is that Alston will allow schools to increase education-related benefits, NIL reform will require schools to allow their athletes to profit from NIL.
Alston has little to do with Division III athletes, since athletes at this level do not receive any financial benefits due to athletic participation, but major changes at the NCAA Division I level have the chance to affect things in the largest Division. As for NIL, while all the focus has been on basketball and football, there will be an opportunity for a savvy DIII athlete to make some money in the future.
For further reading, here is some info about NCAA vs. Alston:
NCAA v. Alston-The Wait Is Over..What’s Next for the NCAA (National Law Review)