Iowa Bill Latest in Movement to Make College Athletes Employees

    • Iowa state Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) introduced a bill stating athletes at public schools in the state should be considered employees.
    • The bill is the latest in a growing number of opportunities to get athletes employment status.

In the past couple of years, the movement for college athletes’ employment rights has rapidly gained steam. Now, even more support has surfaced — this time at the state level.

On Jan. 20, Iowa state Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) introduced a bill stating athletes at public schools in the state should be considered employees. If passed, it would set a new precedent for athlete classification.

  • The bill would apply to major Power 5 athletic departments at Iowa and Iowa State.
  • Players could receive wages and other labor benefits.
  • Salaries would be determined by the Board of Regents, attorney Maddie Salamone told Front Office Sports.

The bill could be a financial game-changer for athletes. Black Power 5 football and basketball players could have each made about $250,000 in salaries annually between 2005-19 if they were employees — a total of $17.3 billion, a previous study found.

Hunter, the ranking member of the Iowa House Labor Committee, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Increasing Momentum

The bill is just the latest in a growing number of legal and political avenues to get athletes employment status.

Litigation is pending in the case Johnson v. NCAA, which argues that college athletes are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The National Labor Relations Board is also considering an accusation that the NCAA misclassified athletes as amateurs after its general counsel voiced support.

Several federal lawmakers are on board, too.