SCOTUS ruling on Alston case could open door for other pay/play challenges

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a unanimous opinion Monday that says the NCAA cannot violate federal anti-trust laws when it comes to compensating student-athletes for educational expenses.

The opinion is narrowly focused but may observers believe it further opens the door on the Pay for Play issue.

“In the past you could not get extra money for musical instruments, scientific equipment, post-graduate graduates, tutoring, academic awards, international study abroad,” MetroNews Sportsline Host Caridi said during a Monday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.” “The Court said you (NCAA) cannot do that.”

The case, which is named after former WVU football player Shawne Alston, is seen as an important part of the ongoing discussion about paying college athletes. The opinion handed down Monday doesn’t go that far but it also won’t halt the discussion, Caridi said.

“This does not have an absolute massive immediate impact, things don’t change tomorrow,” he said. “This deals only with educational benefits a school can offer an athlete in football, basketball that’s all we’re talking about. But the Court ruled that he NCAA is not exempt from anti-trust rules which means this will lead to many other lawsuits and we’ll start to get some fundamental change in the way the NCAA deals with student athletes.”

Relaxing the current restrictions on payments of educational-related expenses “would not blur the distinction between college and professional sports,” the opinion said.

The NCAA appealed a lower court decision in favor of Alston to the Supreme Court but the Court affirmed the decision in Monday’s 9-0 opinion.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a concurring opinion that said the NCAA is not above the law.

“Nowhere else in American business can a company get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate,” Kavanaugh said.

Momentum is picking up even more on the Pay for Play issue, Caridi said.

“You think the stone was already rolling down the hill? Today it became a massive boulder and started to go faster,” he said.

Shawne Alston, originally from Hampton, Va., played running back at WVU from 2009-2012.

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