NCAA president Charlie Baker asks Congress to affirm that student-athletes are not school employees
The GIST: The 2021 NIL explosion rocked the college sports world, and the NCAA’s been trying to put a lid back on Pandora’s box ever since, including seeking congressional help for NIL regulation.
- Yesterday, NCAA president Charlie Baker tried a new strategy: He asked Congress to affirm that student-athletes (SAs) are not school employees, a move that would help keep regulation under the NCAA’s umbrella, instead of the judicial system’s.
The legal pressure: This year’s seen a massive labor movement across the American economy, and college sports are no exception. From the Dartmouth men’s basketball team to volunteer coaches, the world is questioning the line between amateur and pro — including how college athletes should be categorized.
- The NCAA is facing multiple lawsuits alleging antitrust abuses, mostly because it lacks employee protections for SAs. As these claims find success in court, they’re chipping away at the business model college sports have depended on for decades.
The NCAA’s wishlist: Baker begged the Senate Judiciary Committee to grant SAs “special status” yesterday, declaring them definitely-not-employees once and for all. He and fellow admins say classifying SAs as employees would doom the NCAA’s amateurism ethos and destroy college sports as we know it.
- The NCAA claims that making SAs employees could legally require one-size-fits-all benefits for every athlete, from Alabama football’s quarterback to Juniata’s swimmers. That, Baker says, would be “untenable” for non-revenue programs, like Division II and III sports and women’s teams.
- A “special status” law would shield the NCAA from the antitrust suits, buying the org time and flexibility to create a workable solution to the myriad labor demands — before the courts do it themselves. Translation: End the suits and we’ll do better…promise.
What’s next: Some senators, like
Zodiac Killer Texas Republican Ted Cruz, have said Congress will likely pass an NIL rights law within the next year. Others, like Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, think the NCAA should solve its own problems. Wouldn't bet on it, buddy.