A lawsuit filed against the NCAA and Pac-12 by former USC football player Lamar Dawson was dismissed by a federal judge in California on Tuesday.
The class-action lawsuit, filed in September, sought minimum wage and overtime payments among other compensation under the premise that the NCAA and Pac-12 violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code.
Judge Richard Seeborg's decision to dismiss the case was similar to that of a three-judge panel in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year, which ruled former student-athletes at NCAA Division I schools are not considered employees under the FLSA. That case involved former track and field athletes at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dawson argued that his case was different because football, unlike track, is a revenue-generating sport, but Seeborg wrote "the premise that revenue generation is determinative of employment status is not supported by the case law."
"Leaving aside the policy question of whether and how Division I FBS college football players should be compensated," Seeborg added, "there is simply no legal basis for finding them to be 'employees' under the FLSA."
The decision came as no surprise to the NCAA and Pac-12, both of which came out strongly against the validity of Dawson's claim when the lawsuit was originally filed.
"The NCAA is pleased that the District Court dismissed the Dawson case. As we have said in this case and others before it, there is no legal support for the idea that college athletics participation makes a student a university employee," NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement. "Playing college sports allows students to get a quality education and build skills to prepare them for success after college. It is unfortunate we must continue to expend resources on cases that copy previously dismissed lawsuits."
Added Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: "We are pleased with today's ruling as it reaffirms our conviction that college athletes are students at our universities and not employees. We remain committed to meeting the evolving needs of college athletes, and support the court's decision to uphold amateurism as integral to college sports and our universities' academic missions."
Dawson became a starter at linebacker for USC as a true freshman in 2011, but injuries derailed his career and a shot at the NFL, beginning with a torn ACL in 2013. He redshirted in 2014 and appeared in eight games in 2015, when he finished with 31 tackles.