College Athletes (Still) Not Employees

By Lindsay Hesketh

The District Court for the Northern District of California has weighed in on whether student athletes are “employees” under the law.  On April 25, 2017, the Court dismissed a proposed class action brought by a former University of Southern California football player.  The suit was against the NCAA and PAC-12 Conference for violations of the FLSA and California Labor Code.

In dismissing the claim, the Court relied in part on the Seventh Circuit’s 2016 decision holding former track and field student athletes were not employees. Here, the plaintiff argued college football is different from track and field because football brings in more revenue.  No luck.  Without addressing other policy implications, the Court declined to draw a line between revenue-generating and non-revenue-generating college sports. The Court also rejected the athlete’s comparison of college athletics to work-study programs, noting sports exist for the primary benefit of the students and not the school.

This is only the latest in the pay-for-play college athlete saga.  Stand by.

Read the full decision: Dawson v. NCAA, et al., Case No. 16-cv-05487-RS (N.D. Cal. April 25, 2017).