Skip to main content

House committee to review bill limiting student-athletes from being employees

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos06/11/24


The House Committee on Education and the Workforce announced it will review Rep. Bob Good’s “Protecting Student Athlete’s Economic Freedom Act” in a markup hearing on Thursday.

Rep. Good’s bill was first introduced on May 23, and the proposed legislation states that a student-athlete “may not be considered an employee of an institution, conference, or association.” The NCAA has been lobbying Congress – including at nearly a dozen hearings on Capitol Hill – to ensure that college athletes are not classified as employees. The hearing is the first time since those lobbying efforts solidified that a college sports bill has gotten to the full committee markup and vote stage.

If the bill makes it out of committee, it would be in a position to be taken up on the House floor. The hearing takes place at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday and will be live streamed on the committee’s YouTube page.

Steve Berkowitz of USA Today first reported the news.

NCAA has lobbied for employee exemption

A markup is a meeting of the committee to debate and consider amendments to a measure under consideration. The markup determines whether the measure pending before a committee will be recommended to the full House and whether it should be amended in any substantive way.

“As a former college athlete, I strongly believe America’s long tradition of college sports should not be ruined by reclassifying student-athletes as employees or moving to unionization,” Good, a Republican from Virginia’s Fifth District, said when introducing the bill. “My legislation will help maintain a balance between athletics and academics, ensuring that college sports programs remain viable, beneficial and enjoyable for all student-athletes.”

Efforts to classify student-athletes as employees under the National Labor Relations Act have intensified over the past 12 months, with recent rulings recognizing athletes at institutions like the Dartmouth men’s basketball team as employees with the right to unionize.

The case – and potential National Labor Relations Board review – could open the door for a subset of athletes to be deemed employees of their universities – a scenario the NCAA is determined to prevent. Laura A. Sacks, the Boston-based NLRB regional director, issued the landmark ruling on Feb. 5, one that is still echoing throughout college sports.

A Los Angeles-based administrative law judge is also weighing whether USC’s football and men’s and women’s basketball players are employees of the university and/or the NCAA and Pac-12 Conference. The NCAA and Pac-12 are charged with being joint employers of the athletes.

Bill co-sponsored by 10 other members

The “Protecting Student Athlete’s Economic Freedom Act” is co-sponsored by 10 other members of Congress.

“Student-athletes should not be and have never before been considered employees,” Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said when the legislation was first introduced.

“The NLRB’s rampant politicization of this issue threatens the integrity of college sports and countless student-athletes across the nation. I’m proud to support Rep. Good’s Protecting Student Athletes’ Economic Freedom Act which would shield student-athletes from misguided unionization efforts on their campuses. Student-athletes attend their institutions to receive an education and to excel in their respective sports – not for the purpose of becoming employees who punch a timecard every day.”