WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nature of college sports is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Justices heard arguments Wednesday about whether the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) should be allowed to put a cap on education-related benefits for Division I football and basketball players.
Under current NCAA rules, their benefits are limited to the cost of attending the school.
Lower courts have ruled against the NCAA and in favor of the former players, leading to the final legal battle at the highest court.
If the cap is lifted, schools could offer additional benefits like vocational school payments and post-graduate scholarships which could amount to tens of thousands of dollars in value.
The NCAA argued getting rid of the cap would create a bidding war for players among schools and would blur the line between professional and amateur players.
“These new allowances are akin to professional salaries,” said Seth Waxman, attorney for NCAA. “We cannot restrain schools from awarding to every Division I athlete just for being on the team $5,980 per year. God help us. That is nothing but pay for play.”
Attorneys for former student players argued the current NCAA cap violates anti-trust laws.
“The petitioner’s complaint is not a legal one,” said Jeffrey Kessler, attorney for the former players.
Former student athletes say they should be allowed to be rewarded for their hard work.
“It will be life changing for these athletes,” Kessler said.
The Justices are weighing the role of the court in the matter.
“I worry a lot about judges getting into the business of deciding how amateur sports should be run,” said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer during the arguments.