The National Collegiate Athletic Association is facing an antitrust lawsuit with allegations that the nonprofit sports organization engaged in a conspiracy with member schools to avoid paying volunteer coaches.
The NCAA’s bylaw restricts Division 1 schools to a limited number of paid coaches but allows hiring of other designated “volunteer coaches” who aren’t paid, according to a proposed class action filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California.
“These agreements among Defendant and its member schools, in antitrust terms, make the member schools a buyer-side cartel,” said the three plaintiffs, who coach track and field and wrestling.
Volunteer coaches often spend more than 40 hours per week on the job, they said.
“In reality, that means that skilled coaches who are desired by NCAA schools, but not employed as regular (paid) coaches, must provide very valuable services to the schools for free, or not be employed in their profession of choice,” they said.
The plaintiffs are seeking certification of a class of more than 1,000 people who will have worked as volunteer coaches between March 17, 2019 to June 30, 2023.
The NCAA and its member schools “engaged in a contract, combination and conspiracy to exercise the NCAA’s admitted monopsony market power in the labor market for coaches,” the complaint said.
The lawsuit excludes baseball coaches because they are suing the NCCA in another case with similar claims.
The NCAA didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
The case is Colon v. NCAA, E.D. Cal., No. 1:23-at-00245, complaint 3/21/23.
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