According to the current rules of the NCAA, scholarships for student athletes are limited to four areas of compensation: tuition, room and board, books, fees and attendance costs. But as of a judge’s ruling last Friday in Alston vs NCAA, a California antitrust lawsuit, the organization will no longer be able to limit compensation or benefits related to education.
How did this happen?
The plaintiffs, a group of student-athletes, filed the suit to expand the cost coverage provided to scholarship recipients to include previously excluded educational items like computers, musical instruments, and costs related to study-abroad programs. To satisfy the plaintiffs, the ruling would have clearly included an expansion related to these items, and possibly even a broader definition.
But according to the NCAA, if coverage becomes too broad, the results may lead to a pay-for-play system in which uncapped compensation becomes a recruiting inducement.
In the end, neither party left the courtroom fully satisfied with the results; players didn’t appreciate the narrow wording of the judge’s ruling, and the NCAA intends to file an appeal, which could delay a final decision by more than a year and may even be referred to a higher court.
At this point, the NCAA retains the right to limit benefits. According to the court, college sports should be played by student-athletes, not by professionals. This means the court believes that when athletes are “overpaid”, the system tilts away from amateurism, and collusion becomes more likely when groups of schools control rules placing limits on scholarships. So the plaintiffs didn’t see the full uncapping they had hoped for, but the NCAA will still likely be required to expand scholarship benefit limits pending the results of their appeal.
What does this mean for your student athlete?
For parents and students, the future of student-athlete scholarship payouts and limits remains unclear…but not for long. The case will likely be resolved within the next four years, so if you have concerns about the future of your student-athlete scholarship options, now is the time to review them with a legal pro.
We specialize in helping student-athletes (and parents) get the educational support they need to secure a promising future, both on the field and in the classroom. We can help you understand what this ruling means for your student-athlete, and we can help you determine your legal options if you’re reviewing a contract or looking for representation. If you have questions, we have answers! Contact our team today.