What does Supreme Court decision mean for Utah collegiate sports?

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 22:28:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Monday's Supreme Court decision siding strongly with student athletes against the NCAA, the most powerful organization in American college sports, could have wide-ranging effects in Utah.

READ: Supreme Court rules with college athletes seeking more compensation from NCAA

The unanimous decision does not, however, make sweeping changes that would professionalize college sports nor allow an athlete to benefit from his or her name, image or likeness, or NIL. Instead, it affirms a lower court ruling that says the NCAA cannot keep colleges from offering educational benefits beyond the cost of the education itself.

BYU's athletics department has seen the writing on the wall for a while, preparing for a time when they can offer athletes more.

Associate Athletic Director Gary Veron was hired to oversee the university's efforts while complying with the law and NCAA rules. He says his law degree comes in handy.

"I don't think there are a lot of friends the NCAA has in D.C. right now, including in the Supreme Court," Veron said.

While other major colleges in Utah declined comment to FOX 13, waiting for their conferences and the NCAA to weigh in, BYU has more latitude because their football team is independent.

"We're going to be able to provide our athletes with greater resources, educationally-tied resources," said Veron. "It's not just, 'Hey, we're going to buy you a home or buy you a vehicle because we think it's cool.' It means we're going to have enough money in our budget to do so. It's wanting to connect meaningful legitimate resources to the overall educational experience."

Justice Neil Gorsuch makes the same point in colorful terms in the Court's decision, saying: "Nothing stops [the NCAA] from enforcing a 'no Lamborghini' rule," adding the NCAA has room to decide what is educational when it comes to "internships, academic awards, in-kind benefits, or anything else."

Public records provide helpful context for how much money is spent on sports at major colleges and universities.

At the University of Utah, the chart below shows the pay and benefits for the football program's 11 coaches.

The chart below shows how many players they Utah coached in 2019, and how many of them made it to the NFL.