Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The National Labor Relations Board has ruled
that Northwestern football players are employees of the university and should
therefore be entitled to be represented in collective bargaining.
The ruling Wednesday by regional NLRB director Peter Sung Ohr opens the door
for the players to unionize in what could be a landscape-changing decision in
Northwestern said it was "disappointed" by the ruling and plans to appeal.
"Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees,
but students," the school said. "Unionization and collective bargaining are
not the appropriate methods to address the concerns raised by student-
The NCAA also expressed its disappointment in the ruling.
"We strongly disagree with the notion that student-athletes are employees,"
the NCAA's chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement.
"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."
Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, who helped bring the petition to
the labor board with the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) and
United Steelworkers, called the decision "a huge win for all college
Ohr wrote that Northwestern football players on scholarship should vote on
whether or not they want to be represented in collective bargaining by CAPA.
He said players receiving grant-in-aid scholarships fall under the common-law
definition of employees.
The case has taken its place in the discussion over whether or not athletes
should be paid for their part in the increasingly lucrative business of