Thursday, May 23, 2024

Brandon Outlaw took the witness stand for two days recently and detailed being a football player at the University of Southern California.

He was subject to a number of peculiar policies, including fingerprint scans and text messages sent by anonymous monitors. Additionally, he had to regularly provide urine samples for hydration checks and was scolded by his coach for conducting a non-approved interview.

Outlaw described his busy schedule, taking up 60 hours of his time during the football season and resulting in class conflicts. The core issue of Outlaw’s testimony is the debate as to whether college athletes should be considered employees or not.

If they are, the post-amateurism landscape of college athletics and the potential for athletes’ collective bargaining rights will transform the industry in a way that will allow athletes to receive a fair share of the industry’s sizable profits.

These debates have also prompted broader antitrust lawsuits, in addition to the complaint before the N.L.R.B. on behalf of U.S.C.’s football and basketball players. The stage in Los Angeles has underscored the magnitude of the hearing, set to continue in late January and conclude by the end of February.

N.L.R.B. proceedings have become an integral part of the growing debate about the amateurism model and the rights of college athletes. The significance of these proceedings was underscored in recent hearings where advocates argued for better treatment of college athletes in college sports. The interpretation of college athletes’ relationship with their schools as employees will have profound implications for the model of collegiate sports that until now have remained mostly unchallenged.

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