7th Circuit Denies that Collegiate Athletes are Employees

In a ruling this week, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has released a decision stating that student-athletes are not employees for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), thus are not entitled to receive minimum wage.  The suit, Berger v. NCAA, was brought on by two female track & field athletes from the University of Pennsylvania, and claimed that they were employees entitled to receive minimum wage for all of their hours spent on track & field activities at Penn and other colleges they competed at (both women received scholarships, but Ivy League rules state that scholarships are not dependent on athletic participation).

The 7th Circuit agreed with a 2015 decision made by a judge in the Southern District of Indiana, where they held that student-athletes failed to state a claim against the University of Pennsylvania and other colleges, due to the fact that student-athletes are not considered employees by the FLSA.  Additionally, the 7th Circuit stated that student-athletes should have no expectation of pay for voluntary participation in extracurricular, interscholastic activities.  There is a long tradition of amateurism in collegiate athletics, and the eligibility rules by the NCAA are essential to the very existence of collegiate and amateur athletics.