Just over a week after the NCAA opened the possibility for student athletes to take advantage of their names and similarities, a former Villanova football player filed a class action lawsuit in which the organization and its affiliated schools were accused of violating minimum wage laws by refusing to pay players.
Trey Johnson, now defensive back for Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The 25-year-old lawsuit claims that college athletes owe at least a minimum wage because schools keep track of their hours, such as work-study programs, and because other students are paid for working at NCAA events.
& # 39; We filed this lawsuit because tens of thousands of women and men work for the NCAA and do not even receive the basic minimum wage for their work & # 39 ;, read a Johnson statement to the Daily Mail.
Just over a week after the NCAA opened the possibility for student athletes to take advantage of their names and similarities, a former Villanova football player filed a class action lawsuit in which the organization and its affiliated schools were accused of violating minimum wage laws by refusing to pay players. Trey Johnson (right), now defensive back for Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
"This isn't about getting hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we're not just limiting this case to the select few athletes who can receive approval deals," Johnson continued. & # 39; We simply ask the NCAA to pay its student athletes the basic minimum wage as required by federal law.
& # 39; They pay the students who tear the tickets and sell popcorn during our games. The least the NCAA can do for those who bring so much money to the NCAA and its schools is to pay them the minimum wage. & # 39;
NCAA President Mark Emmert has maintained that the organization is opposed to treating athletes as employees or paying them a salary.
Johnson & # 39; s lawyer, Michael J. Willemin of the Wigdor Law LLP firm in Manhattan, told the Daily Mail that the NCAA's legal argument against paying student athletes was always flawed.
The NCAA position is that athletes, in addition to their salary, also earn something valuable, comparable to an internship, so that the universities do not have to pay a minimum wage.
In addition, NCAA lawyers cited a 1992 case, Vanskike v. Peters, which determined that a prisoner was not entitled to a standard test to determine if he was an employee because it could not be applied to the relationship between a prisoner and a state prison. .
NCAA President Mark Emmert (photo) has maintained that the organization is opposed to treating athletes as employees or paying them a salary. Schools have argued that in addition to their salary, athletes also earn something valuable, similar to an internship, so that the universities do not have to pay a minimum wage
& # 39; Courts confronted with whether someone is an employee generally use tests & # 39 ;, Willemin told the Daily Mail. & # 39; What the NCAA said because they were charged three times is what they said: & # 39; We are so unique and so special and amateurism is such a deep part of the history of athletics that you don't even have to apply a test. "
& # 39; What this lawsuit wants to do is reveal that the practices are breaking the law, & # 39; said Willemin. & # 39; Our client and all (Division I) athletes are in fact employees. They look more like employees than the people who are paid to work at these (events) and they earn the basic wage required by federal law. & # 39;
Johnson & # 39; s lawsuit claims that all Division I athletes are employees, regardless of the sport.
Johnson & # 39; s lawsuit follows one filed by a former teammate, Poppy Livers (photo), who exceeded the statute of limitations but created the opinion of a federal judge that colleges should not expect special treatment from the courts in these cases
To succeed, Johnson lawyers must prove that an employee's test must be performed and that, when applied, the test shows that student athletes are employees.
And according to Willemin, & # 39; one of the predominant tests & # 39; conclude that this is the case. (Such tests usually examine whether or not a person works according to a schedule established by an employer, and other related matters)
In response, the NCAA issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
& # 39; This complaint has been filed by lawyers who have unsuccessfully summoned this issue & # 39 ;, said Donald Remy, NCAA Chief Operating Office and Chief Legal Officer. & # 39; It is important that the earlier court rulings ignore that student athletes are not university employees. The NCAA remains convinced that courts will maintain the precedent of previous decisions. & # 39;
Johnson & # 39; s lawsuit follows one that was filed by a former teammate, Poppy Livers, who exceeded the statute of limitations but created the opinion of a federal judge that colleges should not expect special treatment from the courts in these cases.
& # 39; The congress has made no special provisions for the colleges that have issued – athletic scholarships & # 39 ;, the judge said in 2018 during Livers v. NCAA, as quoted in Johnson & # 39; s application. & # 39; And I don't know where a court has the right to perform a special test for student athletes … I mean, that's not usually how we decided things. & # 39;
For years, the NCAA and its 353 Division I schools have determined that amateur athletes cannot be financially compensated for playing their sport.
Recently, in what could be a major policy change, the NCAA board voted to let players take advantage of their name and image, as long as they are not treated as employees or wages are paid by schools.
However, the NCAA gave itself until January 2021 to decide how to implement that new policy.
Jay Bilas, a basketball analyst from the ESPN college, lawyer and former player at Duke remains cynical about the methods and motives of the NCAA
The shift came a month after California passed a law that would make it illegal for NCAA schools in the state to prohibit college athletes from earning money from activities such as approval, signings, and social media ads.
The California law will enter into force in 2023. More than a dozen states have followed the same legislation; some hope that laws will come into force from 2020.
The NCAA has said that state laws that contradict the rules of the national governing body may result in athletes not being eligible or schools not being allowed to compete.
There is also a federal bill in the works, sponsored by North Carolina Republican American Rep. Mark Walker, who could prevent the NCAA and its affiliated schools from restricting its athletes from selling the rights to their names, images and similarities to external buyers in the open market.
The decision to let athletes take advantage of their name and image, while at the same time preventing them from being considered employees, has been followed with great disapproval.
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, a lawyer who played basketball at Duke, remains critical of the NCAA and says the long-awaited decision still unjustly limits college players.
& # 39; From the NCAA Board of Directors (which it REALLY says): we will endeavor to give athletes the right to name image and image opportunities, but only in a way that does not allow them to identify their image and Realize image opportunities & # 39 ;, tweeted Bilas.
The American senator Richard Burr (North Carolina), on the other hand, believes that players who do benefit from their name and likeness should pay taxes on their scholarships
Bilas clarified his objections in a following tweet: & # 39; NCAA Prez: & # 39; Today's board action creates a path to increase student athletes' opportunities while ensuring that they compete against students and not against professionals. & # 39; What nonsense. & # 39; Student & # 39; means registered, nothing more. Student status has nothing to do with money. Zero & # 39;
Ramogi Huma, founder of the National College Players Association, told ESPN that he believes the decision falls short of any real NCAA concession.
& # 39; The NCAA has again failed in this issue, & # 39; said Huma. & # 39; This is a new attempt to resolve this issue. & # 39;
The American senator Richard Burr (North Carolina), on the other hand, believes that players who do benefit from their name and likeness should pay taxes on their scholarships.
& # 39; If college athletes start earning money from their similarities while at school, their scholarships should be treated as income & # 39 ;, he wrote on Twitter. & # 39; I will introduce legislation that subjects scholarships to athletes who choose to & # 39; cashing in & # 39; in income taxes. & # 39;
NAME, PICTURE, EQUALITY BENEFITS GUIDELINES OF THE NCAA
By The Associated Press
The Board of Directors of the NCAA voted unanimously to allow amateur athletes to cash in their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model & # 39 ;. The principles and guidelines of the board include:
- Ensuring that athletes are treated in the same way as non-sports students, unless there is a compelling reason to differentiate.
- Have rules that are transparent, focused and enforceable and that enable fair and balanced competition.
- Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
- Make it clear that there is no compensation for athletic performance or participation.
- Reaffirming that athletes are students and not university employees.
- Protecting the recruitment environment and prohibiting incentives to select, stay, or transfer to a specific school.
The NCAA also provided answers to specific questions about the subject:
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Schools in each of the three divisions of the NCAA will provide feedback to the working group and prepare for future changes to the rules. The working group is expected to make updated recommendations to the Management Board in April. The board also said that the divisions could immediately start making new rules, but no later than January 2021 – two years before a California law paving the way for athletes' approval comes into effect.
NCAA membership determined that exploring this issue was an important step to support its athletes. NCAA leadership also determined that a response was needed to federal and national legislative proposals & # 39; that would be harmful to a national, uniform college athletics model. & # 39;
WHAT ABOUT THE LAW OF CALIFORNIA?
The NCAA said: & # 39; it is crucial that college sports are regulated at national level. & # 39; The country's largest governing body for college athletics claims California law and similar proposals in other states & # 39; would ultimately lead to pay for games and turn university athletes into employees, & # 39; inflate the & # 39; mission of college sports in higher education & # 39 ;.
DOES THE NCAA GO FOR THE JUDGE?
The NCAA claims that the California law is probably unconstitutional, and the actions proposed by other states make clear the harmful effects of disparate sets of state laws. The NCAA said that all possible next steps are on the table.
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