NLRB: Northwestern’s Football Team Can Form a Union

I can’t wait to see the union rules on when a coach can bench a starter. Via the Chicago Tribune:

Northwestern University football players are employees of the school and are therefore entitled to a union election, Peter Sung Ohr, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, said in a ruling released Wednesday afternoon.

The stunning decision has the potential to alter dramatically the world of big-time college sports in which the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the universities strike the deals and set the rules, exerting control over the activities of the players known as “student athletes.” 

But now they are employees, too, according to the NLRB decision, which will be appealed.      

In siding with the union, Ohr said the football players primarily have an economic relationship with the university, which controls and directs their daily activities and compensates them in the form of scholarships.

“The record makes clear that the Employer’s scholarship players are identified and recruited in the first instance because of their football prowess and not because of their academic achievement in high school,” Ohr wrote.

Football players, he said, are subject to special rules and policies that do got govern the general student population. For example, he said, freshmen and sophomore students on scholarships are required to live on campus. Upperclassmen, he added, can live off campus but are required to submit their lease for approval to their coach, Pat Fitzgerald.

“Even the players’ academic lives are controlled as evidenced by the fact that they are required to attend study hall if they fail to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) in their classes,” Ohr wrote.

The rest here.

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