UNITED STATES NEWS

US appeals court says some NCAA athletes may qualify as employees under federal wage-and-hour laws

Jul 11, 2024, 11:42 AM

FILE - Signage at the headquarters of the NCAA is viewed in Indianapolis, March 12, 2020. A U.S. ap...

FILE - Signage at the headquarters of the NCAA is viewed in Indianapolis, March 12, 2020. A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia has ruled that some college athletes may qualify as employees under federal wage-and-hour laws. The court says a test should be developed to differentiate students who play college sports for fun from those whose effort “crosses the legal line into work” that benefits the school. The NCAA had hoped to have the case dismissed.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — College athletes whose efforts primarily benefit their schools may qualify as employees deserving of pay under federal wage-and-hour laws, a U.S. appeals court ruled Thursday in a setback to the NCAA.

The court, in the latest challenge to the NCAA’s long-held notion of “amateurism” in college sports, said that a test should be developed to differentiate between students who play college sports for fun and those whose effort “crosses the legal line into work.”

“With professional athletes as the clearest indicators, playing sports can certainly constitute compensable work,” U.S. Circuit Judge L. Felipe Restrepo wrote. “Ultimately, the touchstone remains whether the cumulative circumstances of the relationship between the athlete and college or NCAA reveal an economic reality that is that of an employee-employer.”

A colleague, in a concurring opinion, questioned the difficulty of such a process, noting that nearly 200,000 students compete on nearly 6,700 Division I teams. The NCAA had hoped to have the case dismissed, but it will instead go back to the trial judge for fact finding.

The ruling follows a 2021 Supreme Court decision that led the NCAA to amend its rules to allow athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. In May, the NCAA announced a nearly $2.8 billion revenue-sharing plan that could steer millions of dollars directly to athletes by next year.

The Division I athletes and former athletes behind the suit in Philadelphia are seeking more modest hourly wages similar to those earned by their peers in work-study programs. They argue that colleges are violating fair labor practices by failing to pay them for the time they dedicate to their sports, which they say can average 30 or more hours per week.

Lawyer Paul McDonald, representing the plaintiffs, has suggested that athletes might make $2,000 per month or $10,000 per year for participating in NCAA sports. He said that many students need the money for everyday expenses.

“This notion that college athletes cannot be both students and employees is just not accurate when you have student employees on campuses,” McDonald said Thursday. “It’s just beyond belief, the idea that the athletes would not meet the same criteria as employees.”

A district judge had refused to throw out the case, prompting the Indianapolis-based NCAA to ask the appeals court to stop it from going to trial. The three-member panel heard arguments in February.

Defendants include the NCAA and member schools including Duke University, Villanova University and the University of Oregon. An NCAA spokesperson did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday.

The unanimous Supreme Court decision that spawned the NIL payments lifted the ban on college compensation beyond full-ride scholarships. Schools recruiting top athletes now can offer tens of thousands of dollars in education-related benefits such as study-abroad programs, computers and graduate scholarships.

“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,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion. “The NCAA is not above the law.”

But that case did not resolve whether college athletes are employees entitled to direct pay — the key issue before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court panel.

Baylor University President Linda Livingston, speaking at the NCAA convention in January, said that model would turn coaches into their players’ bosses.

“Turning student-athletes into employees will have a sprawling, staggering and potentially catastrophic impact on college sports broadly,” said Livingston, chairperson of the NCAA’s Board of Governors. “We need Congress to affirm student-athletes’ unique relationship with their universities.”

But the relationship has faced increasing scrutiny.

In 2021, a top lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board said in a memo that college athletes should be treated as school employees.

And players have taken to social media to argue for a cut of some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that NCAA schools earn on sports, including a campaign on the eve of the 2021 NCAA basketball tournament that carried the hashtag #NotNCAAProperty.

The NCAA, at its convention, compared the athletes to students who perform in theater groups, orchestras and other campus activities without pay.

McDonald has said those types of campus groups are student led, while athletes have their time controlled by their coaches in a way that resembles employment.

“The most controlled kids on any campus are the student-athletes,” he said earlier this year.

United States News

Associated Press

State election directors fear the Postal Service can’t handle expected crush of mail-in ballots

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — State election directors from across the country voiced serious concerns to a top U.S. Postal Service official Tuesday that the system won’t be able to handle an expected crush of mail-in ballots in the November election. Steven Carter, manager of election and government programs for the postal service, attempted to reassure the […]

7 minutes ago

South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick listens to arguments by attorneys during a hearing, Tue...

Associated Press

North Dakota judge will decide whether to throw out a challenge to the state’s abortion ban

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Attorneys argued Tuesday over whether a North Dakota judge should toss a lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion ban, with the state saying the plaintiffs’ case rests on hypotheticals, and the plaintiffs saying key issues remain to be resolved at a scheduled trial. State District Judge Bruce Romanick said he will rule […]

19 minutes ago

Associated Press

Editorial Roundup: United States

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: July 22 The Washington Post on what Kamala Harris needs to do to win the election With President Biden’s exit from the race, Democrats are quickly coalescing around Vice President Harris. Too quickly, arguably: Both she and the country would be better served by a […]

30 minutes ago

Associated Press

A sentence change assures the man who killed ex-Saints star Smith gets credit for home incarceration

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 25-year prison sentence for Cardell Hayes, the man who killed former New Orleans Saints start Will Smith in 2016, was reduced to 22 years and two months on Tuesday by a Louisiana judge who sought to give Hayes credit for the time he spent confined to his home before his […]

31 minutes ago

FILE - Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen attends the summer conference of the National As...

Associated Press

Montana Supreme Court allows signatures of inactive voters to count on ballot petitions

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would allow the signatures of inactive voters to count on petitions seeking to qualify constitutional initiatives for the November ballot, including one to protect abortion rights. District Court Judge Mike Menahan ruled last Tuesday that Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen’s office wrongly changed election […]

44 minutes ago

Associated Press

Alabama universities shutter DEI offices, open new programs, to comply with new state law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The three University of Alabama System campuses on Tuesday shuttered diversity, equity and inclusion offices— and opened new offices — to comply with a new Republican-backed law attempting to ban the programs on public college campuses in the state. The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, along with the University of Alabama […]

1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

US appeals court says some NCAA athletes may qualify as employees under federal wage-and-hour laws