Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.
Because I'm a Serious Professional Journalist, my long-planned family vacation took place just as perhaps the biggest off-the-field college sports story of my lifetime dropped. On Monday, the Supreme Court issued their decision in NCAA v. Alston, and wooboy, things did not go well for the NCAA.
I think I have a general gist of what happened and will continue to dig into everything more once I get back, but I'm not a legal expert. Thankfully, we have legal experts here in the Extra Points community!
If you prefer your Alston breakdowns in podcast form, I think you'll have some of those coming very soon on Going For Two. But if a newsletter is more your style, our friend, Sam C. Ehrlich of Boise State, was kind enough to share his analysis of what exactly happened, why you should care, and what happens next. I'll turn the floor over to him.
Yesterday, the long-awaited decision in NCAA v. Alston was released. Alston, a case concerning allegations that the NCAA’s restrictions on education-related grant-in-aid compensation are illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act.
To make a long story short, the NCAA lost. Badly.
Many on Twitter have noted that the majority opinion written by Justice Gorsuch (which was unanimously joined by the rest of the Court) is very narrow. Justice Gorsuch was very careful to frame his opinion in the very specific context that was before the Court, namely a challenge to district court Judge Claudia Wilken’s 2020 injunction that forbid the NCAA from imposing restrictions on education-related compensation while keeping in place their ability to restrict more pure forms of ‘pay-for-play.’ Additionally, Justice Gorsuch’s opinion is also couched very much within the (very complex) bounds of the specifics of antitrust law instead of making a broader statement on the merits of amateurism in our legal system.
But in reviewing the effects of the Court’s opinion—especially when considered alongside Justice Kavanaugh’s scathing (but entirely nonbinding) concurring opinion—there’s a lot here that will drastically affect the NCAA moving forward. There’s no way around it: this was a dramatic and decisive loss for the NCAA, and one that will substantially impact their operations moving forward.