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Monday, December 05, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today; student athletes are not employees

In Gillian Berger v. NCAA (SD Ind., Lawrence), a 13-page opinion with a concurring opinion, Judge Kanne writes:

Former student athletes at the University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”) sued Penn, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), and more than 120 other NCAA Division I universities and colleges alleging that student athletes are employees who are entitled to a minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The district court disagreed. We agree with the district court and hold that student athletes are not employees and are not covered by the FLSA. * * *

HAMILTON, Circuit Judge, concurring. I join Judge Kanne’s opinion for the court but wish to add a note of caution. The plaintiffs in this case were students who participated in track and field at the University of Pennsylvania. Like other Ivy League schools, Penn does not offer athletic scholarships. Also, as far as I know, track and field is not a “revenue” sport at Penn or any other school. * * *

I am less confident, however, that our reasoning should extend to students who receive athletic scholarships to participate in so-called revenue sports like Division I men’s basketball and FBS football. In those sports, economic reality and the tradition of amateurism may not point in the same direction. Those sports involve billions of dollars of revenue for colleges and universities. Athletic scholarships are limited to the cost of attending school. With economic reality as our guide, as I believe it should be, there may be room for further debate, perhaps with a developed factual record rather than bare pleadings, for cases addressing employment status for a variety of purposes.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 5, 2016 05:07 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions