A June 21st decision in the court case NCAA v. Alston ended a seven-year dispute. Athletes who played Division I football and basketball filed a class-action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The dispute was over compensation schools could and could not offer to amateur athletes.
Under NCAA rules, universities were allowed to provide student athletes with scholarships covering tuition. They could also fund basic expenses like textbooks, room, and board. But schools couldn’t give most other forms of compensation. And athletes were prohibited from receiving income from outside corporations, such as sports apparel or food product companies. But the Supreme Court of the United States determined that the NCAA restrictions were too strict. The justices’ ruling opens opportunities for additional compensation from colleges and universities to the players responsible for bringing vast income to their schools.
NCAA backers argued that allowing students to receive more benefits would mean less distinction between college athletics and professional sports. They also feared that the demand for amateur sports would decrease.
But the lines between college and professional sports are not erased. The case didn’t decide whether students may be paid salaries. Instead, the unanimous ruling helps schools determine whether they can offer athletes tens of thousands of dollars in educational benefits for tutoring, study abroad programs, free laptops or musical instruments, and paid internships.
The court’s decision stopped short of opening up endorsement and sponsorship income opportunities for college athletes. But several justices stated that the ruling didn’t go far enough, for just that reason.
Perhaps the NCAA saw that move as inevitable. More than 10 states had laws set to go into effect that would have undercut existing restrictions on student income from outside sources. On June 30, the NCAA voluntarily announced that collegiate athletes would be allowed to profit from their own names, images, and likenesses. Since the announcement, a flurry of endorsement and sponsorship signings has occurred.
College athletes take risks when they compete for their schools. And of those who make it to the college level, many come from underprivileged households. Sports scholarships can be their only means of getting an advanced education. Colleges and universities make huge profits from sports programs and associated merchandise sales.
Isaiah 61:8 says, “I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong.” God doesn’t approve of exploiting others, especially the poor. The summer’s changes now allow athletes to receive compensation for their contributions—both on and off the playing field.
Looks like this game has been called in favor of the athletes. Final score: Athletes 2, NCAA 0. Currently, no rematch is scheduled.