A new chapter was just written in the ongoing quest to compensate collegiate athletes and drag the NCAA into a new era. The Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a unanimous 9-0 decision that the NCAA’s continual refusal to allow education-related payments to student athletes violated antitrust laws. It sounds a little complicated, but the simplified version is this: the NCAA’s current foundation of amateurism is slowly being chipped away. Justice Brett Kavanaugh put it bluntly in a concurrence, announcing that “the NCAA is not above the law”.
The decision comes as another part of what looks to be a period of massive change for college athletics. In less than two weeks, several states (including Alabama, Florida, and Texas among others) will pass laws to make endorsements and monetization of social media legal for collegiate athletes. The NCAA previously threatened schools in California over similar laws, so this is certainly new territory for every school under the association’s umbrella.
For that reason, it’s difficult to predict how this court ruling will affect Syracuse.
The sport at any school (SU included) that would likely be most affected by the ruling and new NCAA endorsement changes would almost certainly be football. College football is what makes collegiate athletics go – Syracuse fans remember it’s what helped SU flee the Big East – but it’s also extremely top-heavy as a sport and almost completely devoid of parity. How often can we predict the four-team New Year’s playoff before the season even begins?
Football’s costs are enormous, so the possibility of spending more on players will limit the money that schools can spend on facilities and resources. If smaller schools with lesser football programs find fielding a football team isn’t financially feasible, they might stop playing altogether. That means less money to go around for other sports and more potential budget slashing. That’s not an easy thing to do, either – just ask Stanford how that worked out for them over the past year.
At the end of the day, it’s too early to tell how all this will change things at Syracuse. The entire landscape of college athletics will change over the next few years, and SU won’t escape the wave. However, the ruling looks to be a step in the right direction for collegiate fans and athletes who have tired of nauseating talk from guys like Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s $8.3 million-a-year football coach, who maintains that he’d “do something else” if athletes began to be financially compensated for their play. Unfortunately for Dabo, we’re one step closer to that reality. At Syracuse and everywhere else, we’ve all become bystanders to the unpredictable changes about to occur.