The Northwestern University football team will not be allowed to form a union, as was ruled by the National Labor Relations Board in a decision that overturned a previous one allowing the team to unionize, thus striking a huge blow to the case for allowing college athletes to be paid for their services. The decision was initially reported by Mason Levinson of Bloomberg.
In a unanimous decision, summarized in a 16-page ruling, the NLRB determined that players unionizing “would not promote uniformity and stability in labor relations,” though the issue of players being employees was skirted. Thus, the door is not entirely closed.
But this is still a huge victory for the NCAA, as the board also determined that allowing just one school to unionize would “upset the balance of competition,” so the status quo will remain as such for the foreseeable future. If Northwestern players can find more college athletic programs, big or small, to join the cause and re-petition the NLRB, then the case would obviously be stronger and the odds of college athletes getting financially compensated one day beyond just a mere stipend would grow.
However, they first need a top-of-the-class legal team that would be willing to take on the NCAA, an organization that is worth upwards of half a billion dollars and can pretty much hire any lawyer it damn well pleases.
Thus, until more schools join Northwestern football’s cause and add some muscle to the petition, it sadly looks like nothing is going to change in a system that is in desperate need of reform.
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