The obstacles of making a new licensed NCAA game may have just become a little smaller. In a big win for collegiate athletes, SCOTUS unanimously invalidated a portion of the NCAA’s “amateurism” rules. The NCAA can no longer bar colleges from providing athletes with education-related benefits.
Landmark decision rules against NCAA
States have already made significant strides to ensure appropriate compensation for collegiate athletes in certain situations. New York, California, and Florida drafted laws for the benefit of college athletes. However, this is the first time the association has taken a hit on a federal level.
Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court. SCOTUS concluded the “amateurism” rules violate the US anti-trust laws. Justice Kavanaugh wrote separately to concur. He questioned the justification of the NCAA not paying their players despite control of the market and the lack of “meaningful ability to negotiate with the NCAA over the compensation rules.”
Although the NCAA asserts that the lack of compensation makes it unique, Justice Kavanaugh argues that in any other industry, cutting wages does not make any product better. He regarded the rules as price-fixing labor and stated that price-fixing labor violates anti-trust laws. He concluded by saying “The NCAA is not above the law.”
Can college games return?
So what does this mean for future college titles?
Legal issues stifled the development of college ball games after NCAA Football 14. Sam Keller and Ed O’Bannon both sued NCAA over the use of player likeness. Soon after, EA and NCAA both stated that they would not make any more NCAA titles.
In 2019, the National Collegiate Athletic Association changed its tone and unanimously voted to allow college players to profit off of their likeness signifying the return of college football games. EA has long since noted its aspirations to return to developing college games again. There have already been some developments, some as far as suggesting a release date for 2023 and the putting together of a team for development. However, not every school agreed with the ruling. As of March, we know Notre Dame, Northwestern, Tulane, and Fresno State won’t be a part of the game, reason being the four schools’ lack of NIL agreements allowing student athletes to be paid for use in the game.
With this decision from SCOTUS, all collegiate players can potentially be compensated for their likeness among other things leading to a potential full fledged return to a beloved franchise. Though a narrow decision, it is a significant step forward for advocates of paying college athletes.
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