For years, the NCAA has brought sanctions against college athletes, coaches, colleges and universities for violating NCAA rules for taking money, items or anything that could be construed as payment. Great college athletes have had their careers ruined because someone gave them free shoes or allowed them to stay in a hotel for a couple nights. Coaches have lost their jobs because one or more of their college players took some type of gratuity from a supporter and schools have lost millions of dollars due to NCAA sanctions.
If the US National Labor Relations Board has their way, all of those sanctions will be meaningless and college athletes will now be allowed to do what others were penalized for. In Chicago, the NLRB just ruled that the football players at Northwestern University that receive scholarships from the school are actually school employees and can unionize.
The case for the players stated that since players are paid in the form of scholarships by the university and that they work between 20-50 hours a week and help generate millions of dollars for the college, that they should be considered as employees and therefore allowed to unionize.
Legal representatives for Northwestern University argued that the athletes are students, not employees, but the NLRB disagreed with them.
In Section 2 of the decision, Peter Sung Ohr, Regional Director for Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board wrote:
“For the reasons discussed in detail below, I find that players receiving scholarships from the Employer are “employees” under Section 2(3) of the Act. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that an election be conducted under the direction of the Regional Director for Region 13 in the following appropriate bargaining unit:
“Eligible to vote are all football players receiving football grant-in-aid scholarship and not having exhausted their playing eligibility employed by the Employer located at 1501 Central Street, Evanston, Illinois, but excluding office clerical employees and guards, professional employees and supervisors as defined in the Act.”
Northwestern University has already announced their plan to appeal the ruling.
Donald Remy, Chief Legal Officer for the NCAA commented:
“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. 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.”
I saw one student athlete interviewed on the news that stated that being allowed to unionize that they could fight to lower the academic standards for college athletes. This would allow them to spend more time in practice and less time studying for tests. Since a very small percentage of college athletes ever make it to pro-sports, this could spell disaster for those that don’t. Without a college degree, their chances of gainful employment diminishes rapidly, especially if prospective employers look at their college transcripts.
If the NLRB’s ruling stands, it could spell the end for college sports in some universities that exact high academic standards for their students, including athletes. Stanford and Duke are two schools already being mentioned in this situation.
The ruling of the NLRB should not be a surprise to anyone. Obama has loaded it with pro-union Democrats. Some of his appointments to the board are still being challenged as they were intentionally made while Congress was supposedly at recess. Obama and fellow Democrats want to unionize the entire country and every industry. Union members traditionally vote Democratic, so how better to keep control of a nation, but to make everyone a union member. The NLRB and Obama constantly fight the right to work status in many states and the effort to make other states a right to work environment.
Chances are the federal government will use all of their support and legal prowess to defend the NLRB ruling which is certain to make college sports nothing more than the paid minor leagues to professional sports. It will also mean that the schools with the most money will buy the best players, leaving smaller schools to struggle in athletic competitions and eventually abandon sports altogether.