A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, September 22, denied the NCAA’s request for dismissal of a lawsuit that seeks to have Division I athletes classified as employees of their schools who are entitled to hourly wages.
The ruling was the second in four weeks in which US District Judge John R. Padova refused to dismiss the NCAA from the case. In the first, Padova ruled that lawyers for the plaintiffs had met the basic standard of plausibly alleging that athletes “are employees … for purposes of the” Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Wednesday’s ruling dismissed a sizable group of co-defendant schools from the case. But under an amended complaint that Padova is allowing the plaintiffs to file, a new set of schools will be added to the case, including the University of Oregon, the University of Arizona, Notre Dame, Duke and Purdue.
The prospect of athletes being declared to be employees causes nightmares for university officials who are still digesting the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Alston antitrust case. That decision helped set the stage for this summer’s transition to an environment in which athletes can be compensated for use of their name, image and likeness with virtually no interference from NCAA rules.
The suit also contends that because the NCAA’s rules apply to all schools, the association and the schools jointly employ the athletes. In Wednesday’s ruling, Padova wrote that schools themselves do not “promulgate work rules …and/or set the conditions of participation for student athletes in NCAA intercollegiate athletics.”
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