ERIC Number: EJ931405
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jun-23
Reference Count: N/A
Should College Athletes Be Paid to Play?
Cooper, Kenneth J.
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, v28 n10 p12-13 Jun 2011
Is playing big-time college sports an extracurricular activity or a job? Two law professors at Michigan State University, Robert and Amy McCormick, think it is definitely a job for football and basketball players on athletic scholarships at Division I schools. The married couple has added a new dimension to the long debate over paying athletes by arguing they are "employees" under federal labor laws and entitled to form unions and negotiate wages, hours and working conditions. The NCAA, in accordance with courts that have addressed the issue, believes that student-athletes are not employees, under the law, and that they should not be treated as employees either by the law or by the schools they attend. Moreover, taxing authorities do not consider the benefits student athletes receive to be taxable compensation. In an article in the Washington Law Review, the McCormicks analyze whether Division I football and basketball players are really employees under common law and the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) 2004 decision that graduate assistants at Brown University were students, not employees. Common law has three tests: (1) the right of others to control a person's activities; (2) whether that person is compensated; and (3) if that person is economically dependent on that compensation. The law professors find that college athletes meet all three because a coach has much control over what they do, an athletic scholarship amounts to compensation and players depend on those funds for food and shelter as well as schooling. In their analysis of the Brown University decision, the McCormicks conclude the status of athletes differs from graduate assistants'. The professors say athletes are not primarily engaged in learning, play sports unrelated to their course of study and fall under the supervision of coaches rather than faculty members. The McCormicks dispute the NLRB's finding on the fourth test, which has to do with compensation. In their judgment, young men playing major football and basketball are not there primarily for an education. They're primarily there to win football games and basketball games and perform well.
Descriptors: Extracurricular Activities, Play, Employees, Team Sports, College Athletics, Labor Legislation, Athletes, Compensation (Remuneration), Court Litigation
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Common Law