The NCAA gets smacked in court. Again.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Wednesday denied the NCAA’s request for dismissal of a lawsuit that seeks to have Division I athletes classified as employees of their schools who are entitled to hourly wages.
The ruling was the second in four weeks in which U.S. District Judge John R. Padova refused to dismiss the NCAA from the case. In the first, Padova ruled that lawyers for the plaintiffs had met the basic standard of plausibly alleging that athletes “are employees … for purposes of the” Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
… under an amended complaint that Padova is allowing the plaintiffs to file, a new set of schools will be added to the case, including the University of Oregon, the University of Arizona, Notre Dame, Duke and Purdue.
Plaintiff’s counsel does a good job of boiling down his clients’ position to this:
And he contends that the evidence will show that “anytime a student does non-academic work that benefits the university,” the student gets paid. “If the student showing you to your seat or selling you popcorn meets the standard” of being an employee, then “the students who are at the heart of the enterprise” do, as well.
Cue the NCAA’s patented whistling in the dark.
The NCAA said in a statement Wednesday night: “The ruling is based on a preliminary view of the plaintiffs’ allegations, and we are confident that when the court has a chance to see the actual evidence, it will agree with the many previous courts who have held that student-athletes are not employees.”
It’s as if Alston never made it to the Supreme Court. Oh well, as long as they keep paying the lawyers’ bills…
The Nick Saban Additional Support Act of 2021 is one step closer to reality.
The NCAA football oversight committee has moved forward a recommendation to increase the 2022 signing class limit by up to seven additional spots, as a way to offset transfer departures. The Division I Council will vote on final approval for the proposal on Oct. 5 or 6.
The move comes amid a push from coaches for the ability to more fully restock their rosters in the age of one-time transfers with no penalty, which began this year. Transfers have also increased since the implementation of the transfer portal in 2018. Current NCAA rules only allow for up to 25 players in a new football signing class and 85 total scholarship players. If this proposal passes, teams could replace up to seven departing transfers above that 25-player limit.
It’s for the lazy, but it will benefit the diligent roster manager the most. And it a year’s time, when they have to come up with something to replace it, they’ll all be scratching their asses, wondering why it played out the way it did and how they can fix the new problem they’ve created.
Lather, rinse, repeat, in other words. Good work, fellas.
Tell us you didn’t need a survey without saying you didn’t need a survey.
Further illustration of the difference between inept and dysfunctional. Mark Emmert is inept. The organization he heads is dysfunctional.
Hey, remember the good ol’ days when the NCAA predicted an apocalypse was imminent?
The NCAA, in the groundbreaking O’Bannon v. NCAA case, opposed the granting of NIL rights because it was “necessary to preserve the amateur tradition and identity of college sports.” Its chief legal counsel, Donald Remy, declared it a “scheme” that “threatens college sports as we know it.”
NCAA president Mark Emmert testified during the trial that NIL would “be tantamount to converting [college sports] into minor league sports and we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience.”
In the separate NCAA v. Alston case, attorney Seth Waxman argued to the Supreme Court that “the cost of labor” was a “differentiating feature” for college sports. Without it, he said, interest would decrease.
Waxman even cited an NCAA-funded study that “tested people’s reaction to giving [athletes] … a $10,000 academic award [which concluded that] something like 10% of the respondents said they would be less interested and would watch less if that’s the case.”
How’s that working out so far?
Last Saturday, some 90,887 fans packed Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to watch the Florida Gators play the Alabama Crimson Tide. It was the fifth-largest home crowd in UF history.
Across the country, 7.9 million tuned into the CBS broadcast, which is 10% higher than the 2019 average of 7.1 million for the network, which itself was the highest in nearly three decades.
That’s one game, of course, but just hours later 109,958 people saw Penn State defeat Auburn in person while 7.6 million watched on ABC. A week prior, Oregon-Ohio State put up 100,482 and 7.73 million, respectively. The week before that Clemson-Georgia delivered 8.8 million television viewers and Notre Dame-Florida State got 7.6 million…
ABC said its daylong Week 3 programming was the most watched for that week since 2016. Across all networks, it took 11 weeks during the 2019 season to produce three broadcasts with at least 7.5 million viewers. This season has already delivered five such games, plus six more with audiences of 4-plus million.
No doubt this is all about to come to a crashing halt once it really sinks in with the viewing public that these games are being played by college athletes who are getting paid for their social media presence. Ah, if only we could return to simpler times when nobody but college administrators were allowed to cash in, all in the name of doing it for the kids.
This seems a mite… ambitious.
After the Supreme Court’s decision on June 21, Gates became insistent that the association could not stick with its usual strategies. The result was his committee, which some conference leaders have predicted will deliver narrowly drawn changes this winter, then possibly confront larger issues later.
The panel has spent weeks gathering feedback from various parts of college sports, and Gates has been somewhat cryptic about a blueprint for redesign.
In the interview, he raised concerns about how the N.C.A.A. enforces its rules, a process that often consumes years. He also signaled that he wanted policies to address certain types of scandals that went unpunished by the N.C.A.A., including one at Baylor involving sexual assault and another concerning academic fraud at North Carolina.
Those, though, might be the easy fixes.
Er, “the easy fixes”? Gosh, then, what’s the hard shit?
Divisions II and III, which draw less money and attention than Division I, appear broadly satisfied with the current system, Gates said, and determined to preserve their shares of N.C.A.A. revenues.
Of course they are, bless their hearts.
Meanwhile, at the big boy level…
Beyond a nimbler N.C.A.A., Gates said he saw “a need for change in structure,” including potentially more divisions.
“Let’s just suppose — and now I’m getting into a hypothetical, which I almost certainly should not — but let’s suppose you give each of the divisions the autonomy and authority to structure itself as it sees fit,” he said. “That’s how you might end up with more than three.”
He hoped that such an approach, in which “Division I has more freedom to reorganize itself,” might calm the wealthiest conferences.
Money and power. Sounds easy enough. How quick you need it?
Gates’s 28-member committee is expected to make its recommendations by mid-November, and the full association could vote on them in January.
Two months to come up with a proposal to overhaul one of the most resistant to change organizations in existence, followed by a vote two months after that to adopt it? I’ll have what he’s having, thanks.
So, they’re really gonna do it.
It’s a move to help out coaches who aren’t aces at roster management first, and high school recruits second. But you know and I know who’s really going to benefit from this. So does Todd Berry.
“We’ve been working on this since June, and it has gone round and round, the subject matter is really important to our coaches right now because, quite honestly, with the one-time transfer and with NIL, all of your players are basically potentially in the portal and not just the ones that are looking for more playing time,” Berry said. “The problem that our coaches were facing was the fact that if I sign 25 players in the December and February signing dates, then that leaves me with no initials to be able to handle the five offensive linemen that I might lose in the summer of next year. So, everybody was feeling like they had to hold a significant number of scholarships back with the idea that I’ve got to hold them back, because I don’t know exactly what I’m going to lose next summer.”
The committee has wanted to find ways to discourage coaches from purging their rosters by just suggesting they will have as many initial counters as they want, no matter how many players transfer. But also wanted to give programs the opportunity to stay at or near the 85-scholarship limit if they do lose a significant number of players to the transfer portal.
Coaches like Saban and Smart have been rubbing their hands thinking about the possibilities once a rule like this goes into effect. Alabama and Georgia signing 32 players in a class is about as “let the rich get richer” move as college football could allow. If a player doesn’t show out, I assume he will be encouraged to seek greener pastures. And if he can’t take the hint…
“Even if they’re dismissed”. It’s an aggressive roster manager’s wet dream.
Oh, yeah — it’s only a one-year, patchwork proposal.
Meaning, they’ll be right back at the same drawing board in a year’s time. I mean, what could go wrong?
I forgot to mention this yesterday, but there’s a federal judge who just refused to dismiss out of hand the idea that college athletes are employees of the schools they… well, work at.
Here’s the money graf, so to speak.
Gasp! You mean to say schools aren’t doing it for the kids?
Maybe this is a tempest in a teapot, sure, but, then again, it probably would be prudent at this point to remember Kavanaugh’s concurrence in Alston before jumping to conclusions.
Read the entire Twitter thread and judge for yourself whether this thing has real legs to it.
Hey, NCAA, when you do this whole constitutional convention thing…
… you think you can bother to include some fundamental fairness in your enforcement rules?
By the way, he’s not exaggerating the circumstances. Here’s what the NCAA itself found:
Beginning in January 2015, the associate AD provided cash loans—which he characterized as scholarship cash advances—from his personal bank account to two football student–athletes. The associate AD did so after learning from Akron‘s director of football operations (DOFO) that the student–athletes had not yet received their living allowance scholarships and/or Pell Grants. Under similar circumstances, the associate AD provided cash loans to seven additional football student–athletes during the 2019–20 academic year. As a result of receiving the impermissible benefits, four football student–athletes competed in 21 contests and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible.
“… received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible.” Ain’t that some shit?
NCAA officials are moving closer to an immediate expansion of the annual 25-person signing limit as a way for coaches to replace players they’ve lost to the burgeoning transfer portal. The NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee is finalizing a proposal that would change the signing limit this cycle in what’s being described as a one-year waiver of relief until a permanent policy is created.
Multiple officials spoke to Sports Illustrated under the condition of anonymity given the sensitive nature of ongoing deliberations on the proposals.
A compromise is finally emerging among a group of proposals. Under the plan, schools can sign 25 new players while gaining additional signee spots for every player who transfers out of their program—up to a certain limit. The extra spots would be based on the number of players who enter the transfer portal under their own volition and would be capped at a figure, such as seven.
But not everyone agrees with the proposals. The annual signing limit in football has for years been an argumentative issue. It was originally implemented to disincentivize the trend of coaches cutting or pushing out scholarship players in an effort to over-sign high school players or transfers.
Earlier this year, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons and other administrators expressed concern that replacing departures with additional signee spots will “repeat history.” They believe that coaches will exploit the change by pushing out players to create an additional spot for more talented athletes—a reason for the cap on replacements.
Shit, you think so? Here’s the tell:
However, in the compromise proposal, schools can replace only players who leave for the transfer portal on their own. Schools would not be able to gain additional spots for players dismissed from a team, pushed out by coaches or those who leave early for the NFL draft.
“Pushed out by coaches” is doing some seriously heavy lifting there. Like Nick Saban doesn’t know how to make a player feel like the transfer portal isn’t his best option.
What’s being proposed as a band aid for coaches who aren’t the best at roster management is going to turn out to be a bonanza for those who are masters at it. And five years from now, people are still going to be marveling at how much better the rosters are at places like ‘Bama and Georgia than elsewhere. This is a real genius move, fellas.
Contrast that with Nebraska on Wednesday, which acknowledged publicly that its football program is being investigated by the NCAA after a report by the Action Network raised allegations of organized off-campus workouts during the COVID-19 pause and other practice violations, including improper involvement by analysts.
This is now, on the eve of a critical season for Nebraska coach Scott Frost, going to be a significant cloud hanging over his future. The NCAA will have to launch an expensive investigation that could take years to resolve before the school is assessed penalties, most of which will impact people who are long gone from Nebraska.
If you want to truly understand the NCAA’s existential crisis, all you need to know is that Wednesday offered an example of the only practical use remaining for any of the organization’s rules: Giving schools who handed out idiotic contract extensions a path to wriggle out of paying the buyouts.
Hey, at least it’s good for something.