(PatrioticPost.com)- The Supreme Court seemed to indicate this week that they may side with Division I student athletes who are putting forth a challenge to their ruling athletic association over whether they can be banned from getting financial compensation that’s related to their education.
On Wednesday, oral arguments in the case occurred by phone. The battle pits the athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
In the arguments, the justices seemed to be skeptical of the NCAA’s claim that fans would sour on the “amateur quality” of the competitions if schools gave payments to students for things such as internships and musical instruments.
Student athletes have been pushing for years now to be compensated for how the NCAA and schools profit from their images, likenesses and names. Currently, the NCAA has a policy that bans student athletes from profiting from those things, while their schools and the NCAA itself profit immensely.
It’s the latest challenge student athletes are bringing against the NCAA, and it comes at a time when the organization is set to host one of its biggest events of the year — the Final Four for men’s and women’s basketball.
Both liberal and conservative justices seemed to be more persuaded by arguments that were made by Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney who’s representing the student athletes. He is claiming that the NCAA is currently in violation of federal antitrust laws regarding to its restrictions on education-related payments.
Those restrictions were struck down by a federal district court. That decision was then affirmed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case is being led by Shawne Alston, a former running back for West Virginia, and some other student athletes.
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who typically isn’t as outspoken as some other justices, was direct and to the point in his statements Wednesday. He said:
“It strikes me as odd that the coaches’ salaries have ballooned and they are in the amateur ranks, as are the players.”
Other conservative justices seemed to side with Thomas as well. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for example, seemed to side with the players when he said:
“It does seem … that schools are conspiring with competitors to pay no salaries to the workers who are making the schools billions of dollars on the theory that consumers want the schools to pay their workers nothing. That seems entirely circular and even somewhat disturbing.”
What sheds a lot of doubt about the NCAA’s prospects for a victory in this case is that even the liberal justices were behind the players at this week’s hearing. Justice Elena Kagan, for example, told Seth Waxman, a former U.S. solicitor general who’s serving as the attorney for the NCAA:
“These are competitors all getting together with total market power fixing prices.”
In his ruling, appellate Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas wrote:
“Uncapping certain education-related benefits would preserve consumer demand for college athletics just as well as the challenged rules do. Such benefits are easily distinguishable from professional salaries. The record furnishes ample support … that the provision of education-related benefits has not and will not repel college sports fans.”