UW Center for Leadership in Athletics

Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies Research

State of Washington College Athlete Labor Rights: Preparing for Employment & Unionization

The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies awards annual grant funding to UW graduate students and faculty for research on aspects of labor directly relevant to policymakers in Washington State. We are pleased to announce that Jennifer Lee Hoffman, Associate Professor, and Regena Pauketat, PhD Candidate from the Center for Leadership in Athletics & College of Education at the University of Washington, have been awarded funding for the 2023-2024 academic year.

See the full list of 2023-24 Washington State Labor Research Grant Recipients here.

Dr. Jennifer Lee Hoffman’s and Regena Pauketat’s research is focused on state legislatures, federal courts, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), all of which are considering questions of college athlete compensation, including whether college athletes should be reclassified from student status to employee status. These cases also consider questions over a fair college athlete wage and other worker protections and benefits such as overtime pay, antitrust restrictions related to endorsements, medical and injury support, and access to media rights and other revenue generated by college athletic programs. Yet, there are no models for college athlete employee status that currently exist. Therefore, we examine labor law and how changes to college athlete employment status will impact students in Washington state. Our report provides findings and recommendations for current and prospective athletes, labor organizations and unions supporting college athletes, and Washington state lawmakers at the state and federal levels interested in college athlete employee legislation.