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Northwestern Players Win Union Case As NLRB Rules Players Are Employees

As TJHN reported on January 29th, a group of Football players at Northwestern University were seeking a ruling determining the National Labor Relations Board determine that Student Athletes were in fact Employees of the school.  Such a ruling would allow athletes to organize a Union and seek benefits that accompanied such an organization.  NCAA Athletes To Organize Union – Petition Filed With National Labor Relations Board

In its 24-page decision which you can view by clicking on this link http://www.scribd.com/doc/214711642/Union-Decision , the NLRB said that current scholarship football players were found to be employees under the common law definition and therefore eligible to have an election to form a union.

Changing the face of NCAA sports forever?  The ruling is seen by many as a complete victory for the College Athletes Players Association.

Of critical importance, the decision specifically stated that scholarship players were not “primarily students” because of the amount of time devoted to football and that students athletic duties do not constitute a core element of their educational degree requirements. The decision also said that it was the school’s “burden to justify denying its scholarship football players employee status” and that Northwestern “failed to carry its burden.”

While this may only immediately effect Northwestern Football players, and the University is certain to appeal the ruling, the burden faced in successfully winning such an appeal is greater than in the initial proceedings.  Courts are often reluctant to overturn such rulings as they do not want to be seen as legislating from the bench.

How could this eventually effect NCAA Hockey?  If NCAA athletes are in fact determined to be paid employee’s, why then wouldn’t Major Junior Hockey Players be able to simply continue their employment through the NCAA, particularly when the NCAA pays a higher wage than Major Junior Hockey does?

Clearly the issue will take some time to settle, but its impact on College Athletics if adopted nation wide would be overwhelming and would have an immediate effect on universities net profits from athletic departments.

TJHN will update this story as more information becomes available.

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