Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NLRB: Northwestern Football Players Allowed to Unionize (UPDATE: NCAA Disagrees)

That sound you heard may be the college sports landscape shaking.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the National Labor Relations Board Office in Chicago agreed with a petition filed by football players, at Northwestern University including QB Kain Colter,
to form a union.

The NLRB ruling gives those players collective bargaining rights and as employees of the school opens the door to them getting paid. The reasoning behind the ruling is fairly cut and dried: (a) They are compensated for their services (scholarships), (b) have supervisors (coaches), (c) must abide by rules and regulations and (d) are held to different standards then normal students in that they can lose their scholarships for violating any set rules and/or standards and (e) must abide by the set rules by agreeing to them to maintain their scholarships

A link to the ruling from is RIGHT HERE

For now, the ruling only applies to student athletes at private schools, but it does open the door for public schools to make the same petition to their state labor boards.

The players filed the petition based on pretty good reasoning: They wanted fully guaranteed scholarships, improved medical protections for injured players and a fund to help them continue their education after they exhaust their scholarships.

For their part, the school (Northwestern) has stated they will appeal to the National NRLB Office in Washington, D.C.

This is a pretty important ruling for several reasons:

1) It opens the door for College Football and Basketball players to become paid employees.This is going to happen. Soon. And it will further split the College Sports landscape. Only the top 50-60 Division I schools can afford to do this.

2) The NCAA is going to lose some money. Between the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit and a few other pending legal challenges, the group is in trouble. They (the NCAA) have been profiting from players and their likenesses for years. That is likely to stop.

3) Even if Northwestern's appeal overturns the decision, there will be more attempts at doing this. Now that someone has made a ruling in the players favor, look for more teams to file petitions on the regional, state and national level. They will win again at some point.

Stay tuned folks, College Sports as you and I know it are beginning to change. It's not going to happen overnight, but this is another in a long series of steps that are going to do it.

1645 UPDATE: The NCAA has responded and, naturally, they're not liking what the courts are saying...

“While not a party to the proceeding, the NCAA is disappointed that the NLRB Region 13 determined the Northwestern football team may vote to be considered university employees. We strongly disagree with the notion that student-athletes are employees.

We frequently hear from student-athletes, across all sports, that they participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the love of their sport, not to be paid.

Over the last three years, our member colleges and universities have worked to re-evaluate the current rules. While improvements need to be made, we do not need to completely throw away a system that has helped literally millions of students over the past decade alone attend college. We want student athletes – 99 percent of whom will never make it to the professional leagues – focused on what matters most – finding success in the classroom, on the field and in life.”

Bonnie Bernstein discusses with Kristi Dosh
((HT: Campus Insiders))

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