Former USC linebacker Lamar Dawson filed a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and Pac-12 on Monday, seeking minimum wage and overtime payments among other compensation.
The lawsuit alleges that Dawson was "repeatedly paid a substandard wage insofar as he was denied full pay for all hours worked, including overtime pay, and was frequently permitted to work without receiving required minimum wage payments." It also alleges that, by failing to require time records, the Pac-12 and NCAA "concealed the magnitude [the number of hours worked] and financial impact of their wrongdoing." In doing so, they "effectively shielded themselves from the scrutiny" of their conduct, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where the Pac-12 is based, and seeks a jury trial. USC was not named as a defendant.
"We are currently evaluating the claim, but strongly disagree with the notion that college students participating in athletics are employees," the NCAA said in a statement. "Our experience is that these college students, like their non-athlete colleagues, are very focused on their academic endeavors. Moreover, they have a passion for their sport and a commitment to their teammates that can't be equated to punching a time clock."
A Pac-12 spokesperson said in a statement that "we have conducted an initial review of the complaint and will vigorously defend ourselves. As has been made clear through the legal process, student-athletes are not employees."
Dawson emerged as a starter late in the 2011 season as a true freshman, but injuries derailed his career -- and likely his shot at the NFL -- beginning with a torn ACL in 2013. He missed the second half of that season and redshirted in 2014 before returning to the team last season. He appeared in eight games in his final season and finished with 31 tackles.