Charles Barkley sees ‘Armageddon’ coming for NCAA after SCOTUS ruling: ‘Gonna become an arms race’

Following a ruling by the Supreme Court that college athletes should be allowed to be paid for their name or image being used instead of retaining unpaid amateur status, sports legend Charles Barkley is warning that the NCAA is getting ready for “Armageddon.”

In a unanimous ruling in June, the Supreme Court took a stance against the NCAA who sought to keep in place the amateurism of student-athletes by limiting their educational benefits. That means that they can now profit from their image, name, and likeness being marketed through third-party endorsement deals, charging appearance fees, and selling apparel.

“Between this name, image, and likeness, this thing that just came down from the Supreme Court, I think we’re getting ready for Armageddon,” Barkley declared in response to his co-host Ernie Johnson and Duke’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski statements on The Steam Room podcast Monday.

“You said it earlier, we’re in trouble right now,” Barkley contended. “Cause I have no idea what’s gonna happen in the next few years of college sports. How many programs are gonna be disbanded, how many sports are gonna be canceled?”

(Video Credit: NBA on TNT)

“It’s clearly gonna become an arms race,” he predicted. “If I’m a kid, and I got to decide where to go to college… you’re gonna say to yourself ‘where can I sell the most jerseys? Where can I get a car deal? I’m going to a big school.’ I’m really concerned about where college athletics are going.”

Coach Krzyzewski did not allay Barkley’s fears concerning the future of college sports.

“You guys have a right to be concerned,” Krzyzewski responded. “And I think universities will start making decisions as to just what they wanna do if they’re in collegiate sports programs…we’re part of the university, we’re not THE university.”

For decades, college teams have profited off their players while the athletes were barred from profiting even though they were the source of the income. That’s about to change after this ruling, for better or for worse. Many universities make millions off their most gifted athletes. The ruling will also allegedly blur the lines between amateur and professional sports.

“All these black kids, I’m not worried about their playing time,” Barkley concluded. “I’m worried about them getting their education more than anything in the world.”

Schools recruiting top athletes can now offer tens of thousands of dollars in educational benefits that also include study-abroad programs and graduate scholarships to potential recruits. However, the decision by the Supreme Court does not say that these star athletes can be paid salaries.

The court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the NCAA limits on the education-related benefits that colleges can offer athletes who play Division I basketball and football violate antitrust laws.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in his opinion that the NCAA sought “immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws,” an argument the court summarily rejected. Gorsuch stated that allowing colleges and universities to offer “enhanced education-related benefits … may encourage scholastic achievement and allow student-athletes a measure of compensation more consistent with the value they bring to their schools.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh said there are “serious questions” about whether the NCAA’s other restrictions on compensating athletes will also be allowed to stand. Kavanaugh wrote that “traditions alone cannot justify the NCAA’s decision to build a massive money-raising enterprise on the backs of student-athletes who are not fairly compensated.”

“Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate. … The NCAA is not above the law,” he remarked.

Under current NCAA rules, students cannot be compensated, and scholarship funds are capped at the cost of attending the school.

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