More Plaintiffs Join Lawsuit v. NCAA Claiming Student Athletes Deserve Pay

Former Villanova University football player Ralph “Trey” Johnson sued the N.C.A.A. in November 2019, claiming that college athletes should be considered employees at the schools they play for under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The case has grown since then, with several former athletes joining as plaintiffs and seeking to form a class-action lawsuit.

This case is one of many blows the N.C.A.A. has taken to its current model of the relationship between athletes, their schools and the N.C.A.A.

In a statement, Johnson said that the lawsuit was “not about being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.” The case was also not restricted to a few select athletes with endorsement deals.

“We are simply asking the N.C.A.A. to pay its student-athletes the basic minimum wage as required by federal law. They pay the students who tear the tickets and sell popcorn at our games. The least that the N.C.A.A. can do for those who bring so much money to the N.C.A.A. and its schools would be to pay them the minimum wage.”

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In June 2021, the Supreme Court passed a unanimous decision in the case N.C.A.A. v. Alston to uphold a lower court’s ruling that the N.C.A.A. restrictions on “education-related benefits” for college athletes violated antitrust laws. These benefits included scholarships for graduate school, payment for academic tutoring and paid post-eligibility internships.

Though the Supreme Court case did not debate the issue of compensation, it was one of the first major blows to the N.C.A.A.’s status quo. Over the last two years, several states have passed legislation that challenged the N.C.A.A.’s rules prohibiting athletes from profiting off their NIL—name, image and likeness. Congress in both parties have proposed new legislation that would grant student athletes long-term medical care and a portion of the revenue they generate.

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The National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, released a memo stating that she considered college athletes employees under federal law. The memo states that Abruzzo would consider referring to the “employees as mere student-athletes,” violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. It was a sign that the N.L.R.B. would be willing to pursue claims against colleges, conferences and the N.C.A.A. on behalf of the students.

“The broad language of Section 2(3) of the Act, the policies underlying the N.L.R.A., Board law, and the common lawfully support the conclusion that certain Players at Academic Institutions are statutory employees, who have the right to act collectively to improve their terms and conditions of employment.”

The case is currently in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. If the case is ruled in favor of the athletes, it will counter the Seventh and Ninth circuit’s rulings. The conflicting rulings would increase the likelihood that the Supreme Court would step in to make a final decision.

In 2021, the N.C.A.A. made $1.15 billion in revenue and distributed the bulk of it to its 1,200 member schools.

Ivy League Sports Canceled For Fall And Winter Amid Covid-19 Concerns 

Ivy League schools  announced this week that they will not be competing in intercollegiate sports this winter due to the Covid-19 pandemic worsening exponentially in the US. The Ivy League Council of Presidents stated in a press release that all fall sport competitions will also not be rescheduled for the spring, however, they already alluded to that decision back in the summer. 

The Ivy League’s will also be postponing all intercollegiate athletic competitions for the spring sport season until at least February 2021, when more clarity on a vaccine will hopefully be made available. 

“Regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to athletic competition in a safe manner.”

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The US has been posting new daily record highs for Covid-19 cases throughout the past week. In fact, over 100,000 new cases have appeared every single day in America for the past week; Friday marked the highest number of cases with over 132,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Other collegiate leagues are also struggling to continue playing as the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in America. For example, Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, Auburn, Louisiana State, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee won’t be able to participate in the Southeastern Conference this weekend because four of the teams don’t have enough players due to positive tests appearing forcing most of the athletes to quarantine. 

The winter sports that are currently projected to cease any sort of practices or operations include basketball and hockey; football is in the weird middle ground of being indefinitely suspended in the meantime.

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The council made it clear that athletes will still be able to train and practice as long as they’re following their state’s/communities health and safety procedures at all times. However, the varying policies implemented throughout all 50 states is part of the reason this pandemic has been so hard to get under control in the US. 

Winter and fall athletes will not be losing a season of Ivy league or NCAA eligibility whether or not they enroll, according to the release, due to the severity of the pandemic. The Ivy league schools involved in these new policies include Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University. 

“We look forward to the day when intercollegiate athletics — which are such an important part of the fabric of our campus communities — will safely return in a manner and format we all know and appreciate.”

The council went on to explain that they would be closely monitoring and evaluating the coronavirus pandemic as well as new policies and procedures that begin to be put into play as Joe Biden transitions into taking office this January. They’re hope is that as long as they continue to listen to health experts and scientists, they can return back to the field without any worry soon.