A group that defends college athletes has filed a federal lawsuit alleging NCAA Division I schools are violating the civil rights of black basketball players and key college football players by barring compensation.
The National College Players Association announced on Tuesday that it had filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The NCPA says NCAA rules prohibiting schools from paying athletes have a disproportionate impact on black students.
“I think it’s important to first recognize the reality of the business of college football,” Stanford football player Elijah Higgins said in a statement via the NCPA.
Citing a 2018 study by the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California, the complaint stated that “Black males made up 2.4% of undergraduate students enrolled at all 65 universities (Power Five conference), but made up 55% of football teams and 56% of men. basketball teams on these campuses.
“This multibillion-dollar college sports enterprise enforces discriminatory practices that disproportionately harm black athletes, while predominantly white coaches and administrators make millions of dollars,” said NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player. “College athletes in predominantly white sports receive fair compensation, but not athletes in predominantly black sports alone.”
The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament generates more than $800 million in revenue for the association, most of which is distributed to the 358 schools that compete at this level.
The College Football Playoff, which operates outside of the NCAA, is worth more than $470 million a year to the 10 conferences that run it, with the majority of that money going to the Power Five – the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeast Conferences.
The NCPA says that, relative to the revenue generated from their sports, Division I football players and men’s and women’s basketball players have been denied tens of thousands of dollars in compensation annually. The group has also pushed for college athletes to be given employee status, a step that university officials widely oppose.
The complaint also cites the concurring opinion of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in last year’s Alston case, in which the High Court unanimously decided to uphold a lower court’s decision that found that the NCAA violated antitrust law.
The court said NCAA and college conferences cannot cap the educational benefits schools can provide to athletes.
“Nowhere else in America can corporations get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate. Kavanaugh wrote.
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