A complaint recently filed in the Southern District of Indiana alleges that the NCAA and its Division I Member Schools have jointly agreed and conspired to engage in a widespread pattern, policy, and practice of failing to pay division I student athletes in violation of the wage-and-hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Samantha Sackos, a former division I collegiate soccer player who played at the University of Houston, claims that she, and all similar division I athletes, should have been paid at least minimum wage as temporary employees. The lawsuit follows a March 26, 2014 determination by a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director that Northwestern University’s grant-in-aid scholarship football players are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, a decision which is currently being reviewed by the NLRB.
Comparing unpaid student athletes with students employed part-time in work study programs, Sackos contends that, while both the student athletes and the work study students perform non-academic functions for no academic credit, only the work study students are paid. She observes that the work study student selling programs at the football game gets paid, but the student athlete whose performance essentially creates the work study job does not. Sackos contends that student athletes are employees under the FLSA and should therefore be paid at least minimum wage.
Sackos alleges that the NCAA and Division I Member Schools are violating FLSA minimum wage provisions by jointly agreeing and conspiring to deprive student athletes of lawfully-earned wages. The lawsuit seeks all division I athletes to join the collective.
The NCAA and its Division I Member Schools have yet to be served and formally respond to the complaint.