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Supreme Court ruling pushes NCAA athlete compensation closer

Yahoo Sports reporter Pete Thamel breaks down the Supreme Courts 9-0 ruling in the NCAA v Alston case.

Video Transcript

JULIA LA ROCHE: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. I'm Julia La Roche in for Seana Smith today. Well, we want to talk about the Supreme Court's ruling on the NCAA and what that means for college athletes. So I'd like to bring into the stream Yahoo Sports reporter, Pete Thamel, to break this ruling down for us and what it means for the college athletes. Pete?

PETE THAMEL: Julia, well, I feel like this ruling by the Supreme Court will not be remembered as a transformative ruling, like the one in 1984 that changed the way college football was viewed on television, for example. This feels like-- remember the movie, "Swingers"? Like, the guy behind the guy? This feels like the ruling behind the ruling, meaning this ruling in its pure form is opening up educational benefits to college athletes.

But if you really read what the justices wrote, especially Justice Kavanaugh, it feels like the Supreme Court is daring someone to challenge the NCAA in terms of antitrust, to challenge the NCAA in courts in terms of essentially paying athletes and professionalizing athletes. It feels like we are a step away from that happening. And this is an important step in that ladder to get there.

ADAM SHAPIRO: So this isn't a Catfish Hunter kind of moment in sports history. But what does it mean-- for those of us who might love watching college athletics, what does it mean for the people who were cheering? They're going to make a buck or not?

PETE THAMEL: Well, they're well on their way. And this ruling, I think history will-- it'll end up getting lost a little bit because July 1st in about a dozen states-- name, image, and likeness, which we've talked about many times on Yahoo Finance, is about to become real in some states. And essentially, the big thing left with name, image, and likeness is, will the NCAA make a ruling? Will Congress pass a law? Or will there be 50 individualized laws in different states?

And what this Supreme Court ruling today, to me, says is, the NCAA is going to have a hard time limiting what athletes can get from their name, image, and likeness. I think it handcuffs them slightly and really signifies that the NCAA has just done a dismal job in its leadership standpoint-- I'm sorry-- a dismal job from a leadership standpoint in becoming overlitigious and spending hundreds of millions, tens and tens of millions, on protecting amateurism, when they should have simply worked with athletes to say, oh, you want extra educational benefits?

Sure, you can have post-grad opportunities. You can have free laptops. You can get credits. Instead, they just kept going to court, paying the legal fees, clinging to their piece of the cookie, instead of working with the athletes, while they were making billions and schools were making billions. And this is kind of the start of their grand comeuppance, losing money and losing control.

If you want to think of what the NCAA is like right now, it's basically a stuffed animal rope to the back of a Mack truck that's going down the highway at about 65 miles an hour. And it's just going to get bounced around with no control of its fate.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Well, there you go. So the NCAA has its views. But I'm curious-- what about the teams? Where do the teams stand on issues like name, image, and likeness?

PETE THAMEL: So the schools stand where their state stands right now. And obviously, there is-- if you just take Division I football, for example, in [INAUDIBLE] football, there's 130 different. So you can't say the schools stand anywhere specific. But essentially, the schools are going to work with athletes to help them profit off their name, image, and likeness to the amount the rules allow them to. Because that's going to make their school more attractive.

Louisiana Monroe is, all of a sudden, not going to be able to come up with better ways for its student athletes to make money than LSU. I mean, that's just going to be the realities of it. The powers are going to remain the powers. But one of the crucial things will be how these rules read. Because as of right now, it's perceived-- and again, these are supposed to take place July 1st. And we really have no idea if there's going to be any sort of uniform rules. So everyone is sort of operating in this weird world of ambiguity and hypotheticals.

But essentially, an athletic director or an associate athletic director can't say, hey, Johnny, recruit. This is how you can make 500 bucks from a local car dealership, local restaurant, et cetera. There's going to have to be third parties that do all that, which is, it's going to be messy. And it's going to be uncomfortable. Because amateurism was essentially the best deal going for the schools and for the NCAA. And that's all going to change in a quick period of time.