Recent Ruling May Allow for Unionization Among NCAA Athletes

In Business Law, Employment Law by Coolidge Wall

The board of directors of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has granted the largest college athletic programs in the country with partial autonomy. The move, approved by the board in a 16-2 vote, could allow members of the NCAA’s five wealthiest conferences to provide benefits to student-athletes beyond scholarships and increased health care coverage.

This measure comes in the midst of controversy regarding the NCAA and whether or not athletes should be entitled to compensation for the millions of dollars in revenue they help generate for their schools.

Earlier this year, football players at Northwestern University in Illinois attempted to form college sports’ first-ever union. Supporters of this effort believe that a union will help athletes cover medical care for injuries they suffer while playing and seek compensation for their services. Unions could also demand that colleges and universities eliminate policies allowing them to revoke scholarships when players are injured.

The administration at Northwestern University is opposed to these efforts and has filed a 60-page brief with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The university has the support of college presidents across the country, and many of them filed friend of the court briefs as part of this case. In doing so, they argued that student-athletes already receive a number of benefits for taking part in athletic activities, and because they do not receive compensation for playing, they should not be covered under the National Labor Relations Act.

While the Northwestern University situation has received a great deal of publicity, any company or public entity can be faced with unionization campaigns or organizing efforts. These efforts can be an unnecessary and costly distraction for small businesses. If your company is dealing with this difficult issue, contact an experienced Dayton-based labor law attorney at Coolidge Wall as soon as possible to protect your rights and to defeat the union efforts.