US college sport is digesting the impact of a Supreme Court ruling that could open the way for significant financial compensation for student-athletes that has hitherto been forbidden.

The court yesterday voted 9-0 to quash the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s limits on education-related benefits that universities can provide.

The limits on non-cash payments for elements such as computers and graduate scholarships were deemed to be a violation of antitrust law.

The case was pursued by a group of former college athletes, and had the support of leagues including American football’s NFL and basketball’s NBA and WNBA, as well as the US government of president Joe Biden.

Under current regulations, student-athletes cannot be paid salaries, and the NCAA had defended the limits on education benefits as necessary to maintain the amateur status of college sports.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling barring the NCAA from enforcing the rules, with Justice Neil Gorsuch claiming that the college sports body had sought “immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws”.

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It is thought that the ruling will at least prepare the ground for colleges to offer benefits amounting to thousands of dollars to attract talented athletes, and potentially financial payments in the future.

There is already a move towards this outcome, with the NCAA considering changes to its rules that would allow athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses through sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.