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USC Faces New Claims Over College Athlete Employment

 |  May 21, 2023

A labor board official in the US has made a claim that the University of Southern California is preventing student-athletes from forming a union by not considering them as employees. This case adds to the ongoing challenge to the traditional business structure of college sports.

The National Labor Relations Board’s complaint revealed that USC and the National Collegiate Athletics Association classified basketball and football players as student-athletes, thereby denying them their rights to engage in labor activities, per Reuters. 

On Friday, USC, the NCAA, and the Pac-12 Conference were contacted for comment regarding the complaint in which they were named but did not immediately respond. The Pac-12 Conference oversees USC and 11 other schools on the West Coast.

Related: Preparing For The Inevitable—Compensating College Athletes For Playing—By Comparing Two Pay-For-Play Methods: The Duke Model Versus The Free Market Model

In December, the board acknowledged the charges filed by a group of USC players who sought to be treated as employees. The board stated it would issue a complaint if a settlement was not reached.

A hearing will be held in November by an administrative judge in the case. The ruling of the judge may be subject to appeal.

There is a shift in the legal landscape for college sports as athletes aim to receive a larger portion of the revenue generated by sports for schools, resulting in a complaint being made.

In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the NCAA’s restrictions on non-cash benefits for athletes, like scholarships and paid internships. Various states, including California, have enacted legislation allowing college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness rights.