NCAA Petitions U.S. Supreme Court in Effort to Preserve Athletes' Amateurism

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2020

Final Four flag fly over the headquarter of the NCAA in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The NCAA petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the organization to continue applying amateur status to college athletes, according to USA Today's Brent Schrotenboer.

This comes after Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger reported the NCAA has written a draft to the Division I Council outlining steps that would drastically transform collegiate athletics. The new rules would allow athletes to receive compensation from the use of their name, image or likeness. 

On its face, the proposal would seemingly be a death knell for amateurism.

However, Schrotenboer noted the new sources of money potentially going to athletes wouldn't be coming from the NCAA itself: "To the contrary, the NCAA petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday in an effort to save amateurism and avoid having to give players more than their current compensation, which has been restricted to the cost of attending college."

The new NCAA guidelines include restrictions on where athletes could sign deals. Endorsements of sports betting companies and banned substances are prohibited, and any individual contracts players sign can't conflict with a school's current sponsorship arrangements or broad "values."

In March 2019, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled the NCAA didn't have the authority to "limit compensation or benefits related to education" for Division I basketball or FBS football athletes.

While the scope of that ruling was limited to education, it opened the door for athletes to demand more than they receive under the current system.

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In its petition, the NCAA is arguing that Wilken's decision removed any caps to what a university could offer a prospective student in scholarship money. As a result, it blurs the line between professionalism and amateurism.

Schrotenboer wrote the Supreme Court might decide by the end of 2020 whether it will hear the NCAA's case. The judicial body could push its final decision into 2021, so any final resolution is likely to be well down the line.