In a potentially monumental decision for the plight of big-time college athletes, former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter won his regional National Labor Relations Board case that the school’s football players qualify as employees who therefore have the right to hold union elections.
Chicago-based NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr ruled that Northwestern players “fall squarely within the [National Labor Relations] Act’s broad definition of ‘employee’ when one considers the common law definition of ‘employee.’”
Still, there are several distinctions that mean it’s not all said and done that college football players will be getting paid for their services anytime soon. First, Northwestern says in a statement that they are “disappointed” with Ohr’s ruling and plan to appeal to the full National Labor Relations Board in Washington D.C.
Furthermore, as Kristi Dosh notes, this ruling only applies to players at private universities. (For now.) In the closing AP Top-25 from this past season, the top 10 teams were all from public universities; only six in the poll (Stanford, Baylor, USC, Notre Dame, Duke, and Vanderbilt) were private.
Therefore, while this is certainly a step in the direction of eating into the NCAA’s hegemony over players’ labor, there’s still a long way to go before there is any sort of nationally cohesive union.
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