Former NCAA athlete, Lawrence "Poppy" Livers, filed a class action lawsuit against the NCAA arguing student-athletes on scholarship should receive pay. The NCAA reportedly cited to a case of unpaid prison labor in defense, The Intercept reported.
According to court documents, obtained by The Intercept, Livers argued that athletes on scholarship should receive pay since they are considered "employees" of the school:
"Plaintiff's theory is that he – along with every scholarship athlete in any sport at any NCAA Division I school across the country – is entitled to be paid for the time he spent playing his sport because he became an 'employee' of his school when he accepted an athletic scholarship and stepped onto the practice or playing field…"
Livers played football for Villanova University and is suing the university, the NCAA and 19 other universities located in the circuit, for minimum wages under the Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in a class action lawsuit, the document read.
Winter championship selections have begun!
— NCAA (@NCAA) February 23, 2018
As The Intercept reported, the NCAA cited to case Vanskikie v. Peters as an argument in its response. What's troubling, is that in the case Daniel Vanskike filed a lawsuit as an inmate arguing that he was entitled to the federal minimum wage for the work assignments he did while in prison.
Furthermore, the court in Vanskikie v. Peters cited to the 13th Amendment in its argument to reject Vanskike's argument. While the 13th Amendment is widely known for the abolishment of slavery, a loophole in it permits incarcerated people to free labor. It states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
The argument of whether student-athletes should be paid is certainly not a new one. For years, people have argued that the NCAA makes billions of dollars off of student-athletes, yet athletes don't get paid. Not to mention many athletes have struggled financially while helping to fuel their universities' lucrative billion-dollar industry. Shabazz Napier notably told reporters he would sometimes go to bed "starving" at the University of Connecticut in 2014.
Ben Simmons, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, expressed his grievances with the NCAA in a film called "One and Done."
"The NCAA is really f—ed up," Simmons said according to ESPN. "Everybody's making money except the players. We're the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I'm there for a year, I can't get much education."
Livers' lawyers responded to the NCAA's defense, pointing out how deeply offensive (and inherently racist) it is to compare Livers and other student-athletes to a case involving an inmate.
"Defense Counsel’s insistence that Vanskike be applied here is not only legally frivolous, but also deeply offensive to all Scholarship Athletes – and particularly to African-Americans,” the rebuttal said according to The Intercept. “Comparing athletes to prisoners is contemptible.”