Washington Update

NAICU Joins Amicus Brief in College Athletics Case

June 10, 2022

NAICU joined an amicus brief in Johnson v. NCAA, a case in which an appellate court will determine whether Division I student athletes are employees of the colleges they attend for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In Johnson, students who compete (or competed) on Division I teams in baseball, tennis, soccer, swimming, and football sued their schools and the NCAA seeking class action status on behalf of student-athletes across the spectrum of Division I sports, including non-revenue sports, against a class of 125 colleges and universities. At the heart of their lawsuit is a contention that Division I student-athletes are employees entitled to wages and other protections under the FLSA.
In the amicus brief filed earlier this week, NAICU, in conjunction with other higher education associations, argued that college athletes are students, not employees, and to rule otherwise would decimate college athletics. According to the brief, “if colleges and universities are forced to pay their student-athletes, it is inevitable that many schools will simply eliminate athletics teams, with non-revenue sports teams the most likely to be on the chopping block.” The brief also noted that such a ruling would likely be extended to apply to non-Division I programs.
Two other appellate courts have previously held that college athletes should be classified as students, not employees.

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