Nearly 12 years of non-stop antitrust challenges to the NCAA’s athlete-compensation rules will reach a momentous occasion Wednesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case that is narrowly about the association’s ability to limit benefits that are related to education, but broadly about its ability to limit benefits at all.
However, it is far from certain that the justices will have the final say.
As the case has progressed, six states have passed laws to enhance college athletes’ ability to make money from their name, image and likeness (NIL), beginning as early as this year. In some instances, they would do so in ways that conflict not only with current NCAA rules, but also in ways that could conflict with more liberalized NIL rules the association has proposed.
The state actions have prompted Congressional interest. Two bills now pending in the House and/or Senate also would help athletes capitalize on their NIL. But these measures also could provide additional benefits for athletes and — especially important to the NCAA — they would set some of the terms of the association’s future exposure to antitrust cases like the one before the justices on Wednesday.
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