The US Supreme Court upholds a decision which said that the restrictions imposed by the sports association on education-related compensation for student-athletes violate the antitrust laws (NCAA / Alston)

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There has been a plethora of articles about the Supreme Court’s 21 June 2021 decision upholding a decision that the restrictions imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on education-related compensation to student athletes violate the antitrust laws. Many have opined that the decision signals the death knell of the NCAA; others portend a wave of lawsuits by athletes against the NCAA and US universities. But for those not focused on such matters, the decision is important for the antitrust treatment of joint ventures and to general business decision-making.

In this regard, the NCAA is a joint venture: it comprises member universities that have joined together to create the rules and regulations associated with collegiate sports. There is nothing in the decision itself that would allow a reader to conclude that the Supreme Court has rejected the existence of the NCAA as a legitimate joint venture. While Justice Kavanagh did write a scathing concurring opinion that will be cited as questioning the premise of the NCAA, no other justices joined.