The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the NCAA must allow their student athletes to receive education-related compensation for their athletic contributions. This is a significant win for students, who have been fighting for recognition of their role in bringing in large amounts of revenue for universities. However, this ruling does not specify whether student athletes should be able to unionize, nor does it outline if an educational benefit can be defined as payment.
“We’re seeing in law, in politics, and in the courts the NCAA has very few friends left. So, that’s where the groundswell is heading.” —Ekow Yankah, Cardozo School of Law
Listen: Ekow Yankah on the implications of the Supreme Court NCAA ruling.
Ekow Yankah is a professor at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law. He says the NCAA business model blurs the lines between collegiate and professional sports. “It’s plausible that there is a difference between college and pro sports that needs to be preserved. What’s less plausible is that the NCAA can tell schools what they can offer in terms of benefits.” Yankah says education-related benefits should be further defined to protect student interests. “There’s gonna be a bit of an arms race … to stretch the term educational benefit … It’s nothing new, but it’s hyper-charged, so there’s gonna have to be some policing on what it means to be an educational benefit.”
Even though the NCAA is a nonprofit organization, Yankah says there has been a money impulse since the beginning. “This ruling does not settle … the fundamental debate that everybody has over beer on college football Saturdays, which is ‘Should student athletes be paid?’” This ruling is indicative of current feelings toward the NCAA, says Yankah. “We’re seeing in law, in politics, and in the courts the NCAA has very few friends left. So, that’s where the groundswell is heading.”