College athletes increasingly are turning to the courts to address longstanding grievances with the business model of college athletics, McGuireWoods partner Sarah K. Wake told The New York Times. The May 15, 2022, article focused on a lawsuit brought by former college athletes alleging the NCAA violated federal minimum-wage laws by failing to pay athletes like employees.
The Times reported that the athletes surprised some legal experts by obtaining favorable rulings from the federal judge overseeing the case. Wake, a Chicago partner in McGuireWoods’ Labor & Employment Department who represents employers and institutions of higher education, described the case and other rulings favoring student-athletes as “a summer of discontent” for the NCAA.
“All these things are happening in reaction to the way in which student-athletes have been treated,” Wake said. “It’s a group of people who, for a long time, felt that they have not been heard.”
Wake returned to McGuireWoods after more than eight years in the higher education sector, most recently with Northwestern University’s Office of General Counsel. While at Northwestern, Wake was a member of the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions, which decides cases alleging rule violations by NCAA member institutions and their employees.
Wake co-authored “Student Athletes: The Times They Are A-Changin’,” a recent paper published by the National Association of College and University Attorneys. Her co-authors were McGuireWoods partners Michael Phillips and Farnaz Thompson and associates Laura Cooley and Claire Hagan Eller.