Northwestern Football Players Are Employees


In a decision that could affect every private collegiate athletic department in the county, the Regional Director of the Region 13 of the NLRB has found scholarship football players at Northwestern University to be employees. If the decision stands, these “student athletes” will be permitted to vote on whether they will be represented by the College Athletes Players Association for the purposes of “collective bargaining” with the university. Among other things, the Regional Director found athletic scholarships to be compensation, not financial aid. He also concluded that the football players were not primarily students and that their “football duties” were entirely unrelated to their education. Perhaps most significantly, the Director claimed that coaches’ extraordinary control over “players’ private lives” amounted to control of them as employees of the University. According to the Director, non-scholarship players are not employees, because he concluded they play merely for “love of the game.” The university promises to appeal. If the NLRB upholds the decision, private collegiate athletic teams that provide scholarships may be subject to union organizing. Please click here to read the NLRB decision.

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