COLLEGE STATION, TX — The United States Supreme Court decided unanimously Monday morning that the NCAA can no longer restrict educational benefits for student-athletes competing in Division I basketball and football.
For years, student-athletes have been barred by the NCAA from earning salaries for their performance. While that restriction still stands, this landmark decision by the court opens up more compensation opportunities for students.
The Houston-based law firm of Charles K. Sanders and Erica Rose represents athletes in sports law. Sanders, an Aggie alumnus passionate about the subject of student-athlete rights, said that his firm has been approached by students in the past, who wanted legal representation.
"I was always waiting for this decision to come out," he said. "Because I didn’t want to make any promises that I could come in and do this-and-that, when I knew there was nothing I could do.”
Sanders and his associate, 3L law clerk J.A. Wright, discussed some of their interactions with athletes, and the perceived plight of these young men and women, who are not paid directly for their dedication and physical risk.
"I really wish athletes had the opportunity to withhold their labor from the NCAA," Wright said. "A lot of them are exploited. They come from communities that are not the greatest financially, lacking resources. Getting the opportunity to have a nice meal and your own bed sounds good in theory. But when you’re giving so much talent and hard work and dedication to these topics and ideas, you deserve to be justly compensated.”
Historically, athletes like former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel have spoken out against the NCAA's rules. The legal team expressed disgust with the organization's policy for not offering players salaries. Sanders and Wright believe the reason it's taken so long for college athletics to make a stride like the one seen Monday, is due to industry greed.
"If you put all of the schools together, especially the SEC, billions and billions of revenue is at stake," Sanders commented. "You can say that they’re almost exploiting athletes. These players work their butts off to get there, and the schools are taking advantage, in that they are making money off the players and the players can’t do anything. And any time the players take any type of compensation, before this – NCAA violation!”
As reported by the Associated Press, the NCAA's stance on this issue regards the perceived blurring of lines between college and professional athletics, diminishing the amateur nature of college sports. The AP noted that the NCAA has been working to change its rules regarding students profiting from the use of their likeness in advertising.
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