[JURIST] The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) [official website] was sued [complaint] Monday for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) [materials]. The lawsuit, brought by a former college athlete against the NCAA and NCAA Division 1 Member Schools, alleges that defendants both jointly agreed and conspired to violate the wage and hour provisions [materials] of the FLSA and that the NCAA affords better treatment to its students in work study part-time employment programs than its student athletes. Work study participants, “students who work at food service counters or sell programs or usher at athletic events, or who wait on tables or wash dishes in dormitories,” qualify as temporary employees of the NCAA and are thus paid at least a federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour for their non-academic work. According to the suit, student athletes engage in a more rigorous commitment than work study students, from time required to stricter, more exacting supervision by coaches and trainers. The complaint goes on to say that without the student athletes’ performance many student jobs such as ushering fans and selling programs would not exist. Plaintiff is seeking damages for herself and those similarly situated who elect to opt-in to this action pursuant to the collective action section of the FLSA, in order to remedy the defendants’ violation of the FLSA hourly wage provisions that have deprived plaintiff and others of lawfully earned wages.
In August the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the NCAA cannot prohibit athletes from selling the rights to their names and likenesses. The court found that NCAA rules prohibiting students from earning a share of revenues unreasonably restrict trades and are a violation of the Sherman Anti Trust Act [definition]. In March the National Labor Relations Board ruled [decision, PDF] that football players at Northwestern University are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, which gave students the option to unionize. The court found [JURIST op-ed] that the students perform services for the benefit of the university in exchange for compensation and that the players were under control of the university. Following the ruling, NCAA President Mark Emmert stated, “the notion of using a union-employee model to address that challenges that do exist in intercollegiate athletics is something that strikes most people as a grossly inappropriate solution to the problem.” The NCAA has maintained its position.