NLRB Division of Advice: USC, The Pac-12 Conference, & NCAA Are Joint Employers of USC FB, MBB, and WBB Players!

NLRB's Advice directs region to pursue NCPA's unfair labor practices charges against USC, the Pac-12, and the NCAA as joint employers of USC football and basketball players.

December 15, 2022

The NLRB’s Division of Advice has directed the NLRB Region to pursue the NCPA’s unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against USC, the Pac-12 Conference, and the NCAA as joint, statutory employers of USC football players, men’s basketball players, and women’s basketball players. In February of this year, the NCPA filed ULP charges for the employers’ misclassification of college athlete employees as “student-athletes” and other violations. The NLRB’s Los Angeles Region will now take action to force a settlement with the employers to end the ULPs or prosecute the employers and go to trial.

NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma stated, “Coaches, athletic directors, and conference commissioners are making millions of dollars while NCAA sports denies athletes fair compensation,breaks minimum wage and overtime laws, and avoids workers compensation while hazardous workplace conditions remain unchecked. We are working to make sure college athletes are treated fairly in both the education and business aspects of college sports. Gaining employee status and the right to organize is an important part in ending NCAA sports’ business practices that illegally exploit college athletes’ labor.”

“I am clearly an employee as a G League basketball player, and I’m doing the same thing I was doing just months ago for the University of Iowa. The difference is that I now have employee rights under labor law and protections under a collective bargaining agreement. NCAA sports has used the words ‘student-athlete’ and ‘amateurism’ to skirt labor laws and deny generations of college athletes fair treatment. This NLRB decision is an important step toward much needed change,” stated Jordan Bohannon, NCPA Athletes Board Member and Iowa Wolves basketball player.

If upheld, USC football and basketball players’ employee status under joint employers (college,conference, and NCAA) will ultimately apply to all FBS football players and Division I basketball players at private schools.

“In the Alston v NCAA ruling last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA can’t use the‘amateurism’ label to break antitrust laws. The same holds true for labor law. The ruling also characterized college athletes’ athletic participation and ‘work’ and ‘labor’ throughout the ruling. We will win this,” Huma stated.

In his concurring statement in Alston, US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated, “colleges and student athletes could potentially engage in collective bargaining (or seek some other negotiated agreement) to provide student athletes a fairer share of the revenues that they generate for their colleges, akin to how professional football and basketball players have negotiated for a share of league revenues.”

At the request of NLRB’s Division of Advice, the NCPA agreed to withdraw its novel ULP charge againstUCLA. The NCPA will continue its pursuit of ensuring FBS football and Division basketball players’ employee status and rights are secured at public colleges.