The NCAA, member schools and broadcasters may be forced to negotiate licensing deals to pay college football and basketball players for appearing in live broadcasts of championship games, cutting into more than $16 billion in television contracts for the NCAA and its conferences. Current and former athletes could band together to bargain for group licenses, while star players potentially could hire agents.

Those deals would destroy the model that has developed since Rutgers College defeated what is now Princeton University in the first college football game in 1869.

“The free market has to operate and these students athletes have the same rights that everyone else has to take advantage of the commercial value of their names and likenesses,” Roger Abrams, Northeastern University School of Law professor, said of yesterday’s decision.