U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken recently ruled that the NCAA cannot “limit [the] compensation or benefits related to education” that are awarded to student-athletes competing in Division I men’s and women’s basketball or the football Bowl Subdivision.
The ruling means that schools previously limited to covering the cost of attendance (plus some other expenses like meals) for student-athletes, can now reimburse them for items “related to the pursuit of various academic studies” (like: computers, music instruments, science equipment and tutors).
Back in November, the NCAA settled the damages on the antitrust claim for $209 million; a total meant to account for the difference in the value of a scholarship under the NCAA’s previous bylaws and Wilken’s revamped understanding of what it entails for 50,000 current and former athletes.
The premise of the claim filed by former WVU football player Shawne Alston is that NCAA rules restricting the amount that schools can pay student athletes is anti-competitive and suppresses what they would otherwise command on an open market; so, while permitting additional benefits – provided they’re tethered to education – is certainly an “incremental increase”, it fails to “help collegiate athletes achieve their market value.”
Remember, the plaintiffs main goal was to eliminate all restrictions.
Considering the court’s ruling upheld the NCAA’s amateurism defense against antitrust legislation it’s hard to argue they’re not the biggest beneficiaries of Wilken’s ruling.