Here we go.


Per Rohan Nadkarni, Northwestern players and CAPA have won their lawsuit at the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago.  As a result, Northwestern players will hold a vote on whether to unionize.

No doubt Northwestern will appeal.  No doubt the school will make every attempt to discourage the players from unionization.  But it’s going to get more and more interesting for college athletics going forward.

In the end, I suspect we’re going to say the schools had nobody to blame but themselves for letting things develop the way they did.


UPDATE:  The ruling, which is 24 pages long, can be viewed here.


UPDATE #2:  Sports Illustrated’s legal dude elaborates on some of the ramifications of today’s ruling.


UPDATE #3:  The NCAA weighs in.  It’s what you’d expect.

“We frequently hear from student-athletes…”?  Not in any formal capacity.  Which is how you get to today’s ruling.


Filed under Look For The Union Label

46 responses to “Here we go.

  1. Dog in Fla

    Based on the foregoing and the entire record herein, I have found that all grant-in-aid scholarship players for the Employer’s football team who have not exhausted their playing eligibility are ’employees’ under Section 2(3) of the Act. Thus, I direct an immediate election in this case.”

    Which can only mean that it’s time for Delany to break out the suicide machines and apply for admission to Division III and/or the Ivy League

  2. 69Dawg

    Well this is a fine kettle of fish. Northwestern can always go the way of Chicago U. I smell Congressional action to protect these student-athletes from themselves or maybe they can get Obama to issue an executive order saying they aren’t employees (sarcasm). Any way the bloods in the water let the frenzy begin.

  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    And they’ll strike for what, exactly?

  4. BMan

    The ruling says the grant-in-aid at NW is valued at $61,000 per year. As employees, the players would have to pay taxes on that, right?

    Can OSHA visit their workplace and deem football unsafe? How does the NFL avoid this?

    • Scholarships aren’t taxable.

      • Ellis

        I doubt they will be able to have it both ways. If they are now employees they are paid a wage for their services and would rightly have to pay their taxes like the rest of us.

        I read the value of the scholarship was closer to $75,000 per year. I wonder how much more they will demand? Probably the beginning of the end of football at Northwestern and other private schools not in right to work states.

        • BMan

          That’s what I was thinking. And yes, the ruling states that if a player is enrolled in summer classes, the vlaue of the scholarship is $76,000 per year.

        • Scholarships are expressly exempted in tax code. This ruling doesn’t change that. But anything beyond scholarship is fair game, taxwise.

          • Ellis

            You are right that scholarships are not taxable. My point is the relationship has changed now from school-student to school-employee. Legislatures and taxing authorities will surely see these payments as wages and not pass up the opportunity to tax those wages.

            • Daniel Simpson Day

              I’m not sure it’s that simple either. The scholarship part as it relates to tuition, fees, books etc is not taxable. Money received for other expenses AND payment for services has to be included in income (even if it is a scholarship or fellowship). At this point there probably isn’t enough left over for a student to incur any tax liability, but with the advent of some sort of revenue sharing or employment arrangement or whatever that starts putting some cash in their pockets, it could get interesting. Especially when parents cannot take the player as a deduction anymore.

            • Lots more money to be made yanking the tax-exempt status of athletic departments.

  5. Krautdawg

    Interesting constellation on this decision. That’s a South Korean immigrant who wrote the opinion. He’s got an MBA and his JD is from Pepperdine, one of the most openly conservative law schools out there (Ken Starr served as dean after impeaching Clinton).

    It’s possible that Mr. Ohr is more pro-labor than his resume implies. It’s also very possible that anyone who looks closely at the details of playing college football nowadays can’t help but conclude it’s a service job in a multibillion-dollar industry.

  6. stoopnagle

    Ask a swimmer. We have Olympic champions at UGA. They get $ from USA Swimming for medals, but not as much as non-college athletes do.

    I guess it just depends on what we think is important.


    Well if they Unionize, and want to be paid a salary, my interests in big time College Athletics drops off the map.

    At that point, I would just as soon all the players be walk ons, have to meet regular student requirements etc…I don’t like where this is going.

  8. Dog in Fla

    “Update #3: We frequently hear from student athletes, across all sports, that they participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the love of their sport, not to be paid.”

    Mark answers hard-hitting questions in disinformation session about inventory not wanting to be paid while The Plantation is under attack

  9. DawgByte

    Liberal socialists are hell bent on f’ing up every single institution in this country, so why not pull this libtard stunt. If you question whether this is a liberal action just look who’s behind it and who was petitioned (NLRB).

    • ‘Murica! Fuck yeah!

      • Will

        Jesus, Allen West is still around? There’s a real American tragedy, for you.

        • “If Allen West is appalled by it, it’s probably a good idea” is a solid rule of thumb to follow. The man simply does not have two brain cells to rub together.

          • DawgByte

            West must be related to Obama then, because Barry’s the most incompetent President in U.S. history.

            • Doug

              You’ll pardon me if I don’t put any more credence in statements like that than I did ESPN’s attempt to crown the 2005 USC Trojans the best team in history before the 2005 season was even over.

              • Will

                Doug, weren’t you aware that history has never seen so great a failure as the unmitigated disaster of a President who took over in mid collapse and has led us nowhere but up, economically? I, personally, am disgusted with your lack of vision.

    • Will

      Who else could they have petitioned? They have no right to grievances before the NCAA, and the school doesn’t have to do a) jack or b) shit for them if they don’t want to, once the kid signs that letter of intent.

  10. Bulldog Joe

    “Hell no.” “We won’t go (to class).”

    “Hell no…”

  11. Bulldog Joe

    No way the “student-athletes” in Alabama settle for Union scale.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      If by “in Alabama” you mean Auburn you are damn right. Those guys aren’t going to sit still for a PAY CUT!!!!

  12. Skeptic Dawg

    And this is only the beginning. Once pay for play is approved it will be all over. Why? First, non-rev sports will be included in this payment plan. That money will be sucked from current football revenue (the only revenue generating sport at a large majority of schools). As the funds dwindle facilities will decline, coaches salaries will be reduced and quality of play will suffer. These factors will mightily increase the drop in ticket sales. The one factor I struggle with is the very heart and sole of college football…Tradition and Passion. We have seen tradition thrown to the wolves already. Rivalry games discontinued, massive conference realignment, bowl alignments reconfigured etc. Keep screwing with tradition and the passion quickly fades. I would also argue the the decline in ticket sales will only add to the lack of passion. Fewer and fewer fans enjoying their fall Saturdays in Athens with family and friends will equate to less passion for college football. I believe that this is the beginning of the end. And the kind Senator has warned us of this for some time now.

  13. Always Someone Else's Fault

    It means we’ve combined College Football with Politics, which might make this The Most Awesome Blogging Topic of All Time (MABTAT?). Can’t wait to see what sorts of threats Coker throws at Vandy if their players follow suit.

    Can we figure out a religious angle, too? We’d have mobs in the streets straight out of a zombie movie.

    • Skeptic Dawg

      Some wod argue that Southern College Football is a religion. Let the powers that be keep screwing with it and we very well may have mobs in the street! They certainly won’t be in the stands.

  14. Normaltown Mike

    This is great news for the girls on the Equestrian Team.

    At last they will have the right to strike and demand new stables for their horses and new boots too.

    Our long national horror is over!

  15. Will

    If I’m a prospective player, going fowards with this case in mind don’t I almost have to pick a private university for the time being? The potential windfall from this ruling could be financially too important to your long-term future (think about health benefits for injuries suffered while “working” and then about the amount most NFL players talk about spending once they retire)! It’s going to be funny/sad when prospective “students” start flocking to private schools because of the benefits, killing the competition at state schools in states that will fight unionization tooth and nail.

  16. SC Dawg

    Read and learn children. The “senator”, a lawyer no doubt, won’t like this much.

    • I read that when it was posted, thanks.

      He’s already whiffed on the first point and the rest of what he’s got to say isn’t much deeper. What exactly should we learn from it, o wise one?

      • SC Dawg

        Ummm, I’d say #3 is pretty huge. Any school that receives state funding will be subject to whether or not the state will allow the athletes to unionize…not too worried about that happening anywhere in the south…guess your fantasies of player unions will have to be just that, thank goodness for the rest of us…who are not blood-sucking lawyers.

        • You say that, but as friend of the blog Ed Kilgore observes,

          There could even be a bit of an inversion of the usual “race to the bottom” that has contributed so much to the erosion of working conditions and bargaining rights around the country. The University of Alabama isn’t going to have unionized football players any time soon, if ever. But if Nick Saban decides benefits provided by, say, Notre Dame or Southern Cal might cost him a single five-star recruit, how long will it take him to insist that Bama meet the competition? Not long, I would guess.

          Free market’s a bitch sometimes.

          • SC DAWG

            You’re more naive than I thought if you think any college football coach, even Saban, is going to get legislation passed in their respective state to end the right to work and allow unionization. Give it up, it will NEVER happen. Thank goodness.

            Look! There’s an ambulance, now go do your job.

  17. Cosmic Dawg

    I’m sympathetic to the fact that cfb prevents players from making money off the field – I just think that’s all different kinds of wrong.

    But I’m curious how an institution that has not offered employment to anyone to perform Job X can be governed by rules one suspects were created to prevent employers from infringing on the rights of employees. I guess you can loosely define the scholarship as a form of barter, and as such the players can unionize.

    Is the NLRB really doing its job, or is it simply doing what most organizations – especially govt organizations – want to do: expand its power by exceeding the scope of its legal authority?

    I also love that since we think monopolies (or monopsony, as the Senator correctly suggests) are bad for America, our solution is to create more monopolies (unions are simply the monopolization of labor) instead of breaking the original problem. Brilliant.

  18. Nashville West

    If D-1 college athletes are employees aren’t all college athletes employees and therefore subject to federal wage and hour laws? Does this mean that all college athletes are entitled to minimum wage and 1 1/2 for overtime? What about workers comp? If the FLSA applies then the athletes are owed retroactive pay for minimum wage and overtime and their “employers” are subject to penalties for failure to pay.
    This will also create an interesting competitive situation, IF the decision stands. State employees are not in NLRB jurisdiction, they are only subject to state collective bargaining provisions. This means that the state universities (all of the SEC but Vandy) are not subject to this decision. The students will only be “employees” at state universities if the legislature or state courts say they are. I can easily see a situation where the athletes in a
    conference like the Pac 12 are split between union states (CA,OR & WA) and non-union states(AZ & UT). Do the best athletes go the union states? Are the non-union schools allowed to offer competitive compensation? Lots of questions, almost no answers.