On June 21, 2021, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that certain National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) rules violated federal antitrust law. The rules at issue barred NCAA members, comprising about 1,100 colleges and universities, from providing certain “education-related benefits” to student athletes—for instance, scholarships for graduate school or vocational school, payments for academic tutoring, and paid post-eligibility internships. The Court’s ruling was narrow insofar as it did not address other, more fundamental aspects of the NCAA, including its ban on compensating student athletes through salaries or other benefits unrelated to education. That said, the ruling laid the groundwork for future challenges to the NCAA, and, interestingly, appeared to raise the bar for antitrust liability for joint ventures.
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