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Tuesday, January 28, 2014
 
The Unionization of College Athletes


Football players at Northwestern University have begun the process of unionizing.  Unfortunately, despite all of the support for this objective on social media, this is hardly a simple task.  For over 50 years, the courts have bought the NCAA’s argument that college athletes (student-athletes) are NOT employees of their institutions.  Thus, the protections the National Labor Relations Board provides employees—the rights to unionize etc, are not available to college athletes.

In order for college athletes to unionize, they will need one of the following to happen: 1) the court system and/or the NLRB will need to change precedent in granting college athletes them employee status; 2) Congress will need to take action (good luck getting those individuals to agree on ANYTHING); or 3) the NCAA accepts the unionization efforts granting otherwise illegal activity (capping compensation as an example) protection under the well-defined labor exemption that collective bargaining affords.

There is one incredibly important, and often neglected, aspect to consider if college athletes are granted employee status—the tax exempt status of universities. Many college athletic departments rely upon gifts and donations to fund their teams and initiatives.  Should college athletes be defined as employees, the court system may remove the non-profit status granted to college athletic departments.  If so, do operating dollars for college athletics disappear?





4 Comments:

Timing is going to be a big thing here. I think Kain Colter is graduating; many of these players will have graduated by the time the NLRB and certainly the courts decide this. How does mootness fit in here?

Blogger Howard Wasserman -- 1/28/2014 1:38 PM  


There will be sufficient other individuals who have eligibility remaining so that won't be a factor. Biggest issue is overcoming existing law / definitions as interpreted by the courts and the NLRB.

Blogger Warren K. Zola -- 1/28/2014 1:56 PM  


There will be sufficient other individuals who have eligibility remaining so that won't be a factor. Biggest issue is overcoming existing law / definitions as interpreted by the courts and the NLRB.

Blogger Warren K. Zola -- 1/28/2014 1:56 PM  


Why just NCAA athletes? What about all those students who play intramural sports and get hurt? These athletes aren't even getting a scholarship, books, blondes showing them how to use a library, free clothes, etc. How about everyone that enters college be given a union card? I'm sure this will all go down well with the Republican party.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 1/30/2014 12:48 PM  


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