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NCAA ‘disappointed’ in Northwestern union ruling


Earlier today, the National Labor Relations Board struck a significant and potentially historic blow against the current student-athlete model.  Not so unexpectedly, the guardian — and long-time beneficiary — of that system does not agree with the decision.

In a statement, the NCAA acknowledged it is “disappointed” the Chicago regional office of the NLRB ruled that Northwestern football players are employees and are therefore afforded the right to unionize.  As it did in contending the initial petition, the NCAA “strongly disagreed” with the contention that student-athletes are employees.

The decision gives Northwestern football players the right to vote to unionize.  While not official, Northwestern is expected to appeal today’s ruling.

Most legal observers expect this test case to end up being argued in front of the United States Supreme Court at some point in the future.  Such a scenario, however, is a handful of years down the road.

Below is the complete statement from NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy:

While not a party to the proceeding, the NCAA is disappointed that the NLRB Region 13 determined the Northwestern football team may vote to be considered university employees. We strongly disagree with the notion that student-athletes are employees.

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.

Over the last three years, our member colleges and universities have worked to re-evaluate the current rules. While improvements need to be made, we do not need to completely throw away a system that has helped literally millions of students over the past decade alone attend college. We want student athletes – 99 percent of whom will never make it to the professional leagues – focused on what matters most – finding success in the classroom, on the field and in life.

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34 Responses to “NCAA ‘disappointed’ in Northwestern union ruling”
  1. ancientcougar says: Mar 26, 2014 5:56 PM

    I do believe that there is a difference between a swimmer and water polo player and a Football Player in regards to professionality. If someone gets a scholarship in Lacrosse, this is a student athelete who has no next level to go to in the U.S. anyway. Football is a different animal. I believe that the NFL should pick up the tab for the free farm system that they have been exploiting all these years and help subsidize the system with most of the dollars going to the “Student Athletes”.

  2. musketmaniac says: Mar 26, 2014 6:01 PM

    agreed, and maybe we can get the Ncaa to act like a teaching institution and less like a corporate giant.

  3. bucrightoff says: Mar 26, 2014 6:21 PM

    ^^Incorrect about lacrosse, the National Lacrosse League exists.

  4. beerbudsnbevo says: Mar 26, 2014 6:31 PM

    And as with any other Union, expect the quality and the performance to go down now.

  5. corvusrex96 says: Mar 26, 2014 6:55 PM

    Funny how most of the folks who scream that these semi pro football players actually are being paid thru room board and an education . Well if you get paid then you are a pro

  6. telldatruth says: Mar 26, 2014 7:02 PM

    Greed/money the root of all evil. If you don’t make it big time in the nfl etc try getting a job in this f_cked up economy. I’m glad it was ruled in their favor. Fat cats like administrators and coaches getting paid like 4 million a year for so-called non profit organizations is ridiculous. Players are barely getting medical coverage if that. I hope this leads to the separation of football from the ncaa

  7. honkerdawg says: Mar 26, 2014 7:12 PM

    The NCAA won’t support anything that takes dollars out of their pockets.

  8. coachbeck says: Mar 26, 2014 7:17 PM

    Unions are bad. Such a sham

  9. Slim Charles says: Mar 26, 2014 7:20 PM

    Kain Colter is a BOSS

  10. Slim Charles says: Mar 26, 2014 7:53 PM

    Hahaha I am loving the tears from fans that are so angry about people they don’t know in real life actually getting paid for what they do. It’s so great.

  11. barkleyblows says: Mar 26, 2014 8:53 PM

    Love these ppl who say getting a free education, free room and board, free meals, and so on isn’t enough. I hope they start paying the actual students (you know the ones that actually go to class and study and have to pay for their education out of their own pocket) and not just the dumb jocks who can’t read or write.

  12. barkleyblows says: Mar 26, 2014 8:58 PM

    I guess if I played for a shitty team like northwestern I would need to be paid too!!

  13. remyje says: Mar 26, 2014 9:23 PM

    you guys want them to be paid so bad, you would think you’re getting 20% of it

  14. drewsylvania says: Mar 26, 2014 9:29 PM

    Anything that helps diminish the NCAA is good in my book.

  15. psly2124 says: Mar 26, 2014 9:45 PM

    Well if these whining football players believe that they are emplyees. Then of course there room and board should be taxed like everyone else. Most universities it’s about 50k a year. So these football players will need to cough up there 30% for Uncle Sam. 15k plus union dues of at least 100 a month. I don’t think these idiots thought out.

  16. amosalanzostagg says: Mar 26, 2014 9:55 PM

    This is a death knell for college athletics.

    You B1G fans had better hope this this is overturned at the federal level with the NLRB because Commissioner Delany is serious about going to Division III level rather than face increased costs and liability with Division I.

    Three factors in which the Mensa’s from Northwestern failed to factor in their pursuit of unionization.

    (1.) The NCAA is more than Division I Men’s football and Men’s Basketball. It’s Division II and III athletic programs which NEVER make money. It’s over 600,000 student athletes in sports that make NO money, yet obtain college degrees because of Men’s Football and Men’s Basketball.

    (2.) Title IX. You think Women’s and Men’s non revenue sports are going to sit quietly and let increased athletic stipends go to Men’s Football and Men’s Basketball players WITHOUT them getting their “fair” share?


    (3.) $1,200,000,000 per year for 600,000 student athletes @ $2,000 a year.

    That doesn’t even begin to cover workman’s compensation costs for athletes
    decades after they have left the playing field, court or course. What cost does a school put on a concussion incurred in a football game suffered 30 years ago? Yet unionization could hold Universities and conferences hostage for generations on reserving for such contingencies. What happens to Universities when the Union sues for lack of economic opportunity for kids that make the poor decision to leave school early and not make it in a pro league? What happens when the union sues the University for mental and alcohol problems that kids develop while at good old State U?

    Face it, unionization of College Athletics benefit the Union attorneys and the Attorneys representing the University and Conferences.

    That is why I’ve always said enjoy college athletics today because these are the good old days.


  17. doggeatdogg says: Mar 26, 2014 11:23 PM

    I don’t think this kid had any foresight pursing this lawsuit. It doesn’t matter what Division the athletes play in. At any divisional level, they generate income for the school big and small, and therefore, they would be classified as employees. No escaping. If they do intramural sports and they charge the public, it’s still income.

    The NCAA will need to outline the exact cost of all the athletes’ education / scholarship and then do an aggregate of the cost for each scholarship to include all sports for men and women. The math dictates that the average cost of a scholarship is now significantly lowered. It’s like court mandated wealth re-distribution.

    So with a lowered cost for basketball or football players (on paper of course), a sports scholarship is now $10,000 per athlete student per annum as opposed to $70,000 per annum for football alone. You cannot give more to one sport over the other. These students (athletes) will now have to compete for student loans, just like the English major (LOL).

    The ‘job’ offer must be equal to all athletes. I don’t see how you can get legally around it. Offer more to football guy and union guy will scream and demand the same for the badminton guy, the swimming guys, the field hockey guys, the gymnasts will want their fair representation. (We are no longer operating on who brings more money to the AD dept.).

    Since the value of the scholarship (football / basketball) is now lowered, the kids will also be compelled to hold real jobs to cover the difference that may include his tuition, books, and room and board. Outside employment will be needed to defray costs exceeding the 10K. Needless to say, they will have to pay taxes, and the big one, insurance, and the bigger one, union dues (more LOL) etc.

    There is one more thing. I see a demand for equalization of income for all educators of athletes stemming from a unions succeeding in federal court. For coaches: ‘If my badminton player is on he same level as a football player, how come football coach gets millions a year and I don’t?’ It’s coming. You have strata of professors (associate, assistants, full professors) yet coaches don’t fall under that and get more money. I can see this salaries coming under scrutiny under a unionized athletic department to include all educators of the student athletes.

    The crap essentially has hit the fan, something that could have been avoided by the NCAA long ago. They got hoggish and now they are headed for the slaughter in federal court. Also, you have an extremely liberal judiciary environment so it does not look good. This kid really screwed the NCAA and all colleges in the USA.

    BTW: Are you limited in how many employees you can have (as in numbers of scholarships)? Can you fire for lack of performance and get new employees. And who mediates?

    The winners: union bosses, lawyers.
    The Losers: athletes

    Head hurts.

  18. billsboy88 says: Mar 26, 2014 11:42 PM

    College football is heading for implosion, no way this free farm league can be sustainable forever.

    The NFL D-League will soon be created

  19. psly2124 says: Mar 27, 2014 12:40 AM

    The universities can survive, it will be tough. They can no longer offer scholarships. They will then jack up the tuition costs. Most likely and increase of 3 or 4 times the current amount. Players will then be responsible for a down payment of 10-20% before they take out a loan or step onto campus, each and every year. That will offset the payments that they receive as salary. And if they don’t make the payment, they cannot be accepted into schools. Calling it a cost to attend fee.

  20. Barry's Triceps says: Mar 27, 2014 1:07 AM

    Charge em. Cant wait. A few selfish possible pros just cost alot of people in this country the shot at an education to make a difference in society.

  21. germanflats13a38 says: Mar 27, 2014 7:03 AM

    …or we see the creation of coaching/sports as a new major/curriculum. As the time spend by the players become more closely tied to their education/training, the less the appear to be employees.

    Despite what the players may think, training in their respective sports is exactly what they receive in college. They obviously are receiving high priced training considering coaching salaries. College not only provides training, but at means of developing publicity. D-League is where players fall into anonymity. As much as Johnny Football helped Texas A&M make money, they made him instantly famous as soon as Texas A&M’s inherent fan base saw him as the starting QB. How much would you have to pay an employer/educator for that.

    If a football D-League was possible the XFLs, Arena Leagues, and USFLs of the world would remain as viable businesses.

    Pro sports want to pay for skill not talent. Ultimately, teams will fall back upon obtaining talent when skill is uncertain. Baseball had the benefit of an anti-trust exemption and 162 games to find/develop skill. Football doesn’t have the legal rights of baseball or the physical ability to play 162 games.

    NBA is stuck in the middle, and so it remains the most controversial. Players appear to develop skill faster in basketball than the other sports. Maybe because 6’10” to 7’2″ can’t be taught. But even in basketball you can see in the quality if the games that drafting talent over skill has detrimental effects.

  22. ausoleil says: Mar 27, 2014 8:15 AM

    A final court ruling that athletes are university employees would be devastating to the NCAA and college sports as we know it. After all, the NCAA has worked for sixty years to prevent exactly that.

    In 1953, in University of Denver v. Nemeth the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a determination by the state Industrial Commission that Ernest Nemeth, a football player at the University of Denver, was an “employee” within the meaning of the Colorado workers’ compensation statute. (from The Myth of the Student Athlete)

    IF this ruling passes final muster in the Supreme Court, universities may end up paying huge Worker’s Comp claims for injuries on the field and also with associated activities like travel or even slipping on the stairs going to class.

  23. kastout11 says: Mar 27, 2014 8:24 AM

    To hell with the NCAA. Heard Kain this morning on Mike and Mike and this is not about pay for play, although that is something that they clearly want. The biggest issue is the medical coverage. I like and agree with the ruling.

  24. dryzzt23 says: Mar 27, 2014 8:38 AM

    No more unions IMO. Detroit can tell you all you want to know about the end result of unionization.
    How will this college football players union operate in a right to work state such as Georgia? Players are not “entitled” to a athletic scholarship, it is a privilege, not a “right” or an entitlement. Now thug players can rape, murder, rob, and carjack all they want b/c they’ll be protected by a union.

    It figures that this has all started in the most liberal state in the country, Illinois. If you cut Chicago out of Illinois, it would be in much better shape. These liberal metropolises are what is bringing the U.S. to its demise.

  25. addict2sport says: Mar 27, 2014 9:22 AM

    I wonder if these players realize how much they’ll need to potentially give back in taxes and union fees.

  26. chicago240 says: Mar 27, 2014 9:32 AM

    Pandora’s Box. While it might have seemed to be a good idea to play the union card to leverage themselves towards health care coverage per Mr. Coulter, the implications are far more extensive. Naive to think this isn’t bigger than Northwestern football’s experience.

  27. kosarkid says: Mar 27, 2014 11:26 AM

    Well, free college and education to play at most 12 to 13 games a year. Free gym. Access to free trainers/coaching staff. Oh, and you get to showcase your talents on a national stage in the hopes of making it to the next level for free.

  28. Slim Charles says: Mar 27, 2014 11:34 AM

    I wonder how many of the people who hate unions would rather go back to the days of the 70 hour workweek, child labor, the company store etc. Maybe you people should go over to Qatar and work on building the world cup stadiums with those guys since you hate worker protections so much.

  29. doggeatdogg says: Mar 27, 2014 11:47 AM

    @ Slim Charles

    I see what you are saying, however, unions have outlived their usefulness with labor laws in place. Child labor is outlawed and the workweek is set to whatever between employer and employee. Some actually want to work the 70 hours but it shouldn’t be mandated. Besides with obamacare you are lucky to have 40 and not 29 hours.

    You can’t deny the fact that unions have lost focus when it comes to labor relations. They have become extremely anti management even in the friendliest of places.

    If a guy is happy making $40 an hour and the union deems that less than what they think its fair and demand more concessions, the business takes the labor abroad. This is the story of our great nation. It a greed disease on both ends.

    You can keep your union, I want to see the concept of ‘right to work’ in every state. Something the union hates. Why? I think change is needed in college sports and the NCAA is too incompetent to let it happen, but unions are the wrong way to go.

  30. Ian's Rushtache says: Mar 27, 2014 12:21 PM

    What blows my mind is how a country like England can successfully maintain over 100 professional soccer teams in tiered leagues, and the US can only maintain 32 professional football teams. Obviously as you go down levels the quality diminishes, but so does the pay. I also don’t understand how in a supposed free market society organizations can tell a player that they may not gain employment. Many top level professional soccer players make their first team debuts at age 16 or 17.

    Athletics should be separated from education, and minor leagues or whatever you want to call them should be set up. You should also be punished for being a crap franchise year in and year out, a la the relegation and promotion system used in England. As the socialist system of US sports franchises is established, a team like the Browns continue to profit by being absolute shite.

  31. Slim Charles says: Mar 27, 2014 1:32 PM

    doggeatdogg says: Mar 27, 2014 11:47 AM

    @ Slim Charles

    I see what you are saying, however, unions have outlived their usefulness with labor laws in place. Child labor is outlawed and the workweek is set to whatever between employer and employee. Some actually want to work the 70 hours but it shouldn’t be mandated. Besides with obamacare you are lucky to have 40 and not 29 hours.

    You can’t deny the fact that unions have lost focus when it comes to labor relations. They have become extremely anti management even in the friendliest of places.

    If a guy is happy making $40 an hour and the union deems that less than what they think its fair and demand more concessions, the business takes the labor abroad. This is the story of our great nation. It a greed disease on both ends.

    You can keep your union, I want to see the concept of ‘right to work’ in every state. Something the union hates. Why? I think change is needed in college sports and the NCAA is too incompetent to let it happen, but unions are the wrong way to go.


    People like you, who actively invite others to walk all over you make me really sad. What do you think keeps child labor laws and overtime laws on the books? Politicians are trying to gut them as we speak (look at the recent efforts to combat wage theft)

    Why shouldn’t they be anti management? Management wants to get as much as they can out of you then throw you away and try to do it as cheaply as possible. If you think the solution to employers threatening the workers with moving their jobs overseas to get concessions, I suggest you leave your house unlocked and tape your cash to your body when you walk down the street so more people know what a pushover you are.

    If you think employees who want a fair wage are “greedy” and management are benevolent people whose rings we should kiss for even giving us jobs, you must be disappointed when Santa doesn’t bring you presents at Christmastime.

    Seriously, what happened to us? Not only do we act bitter toward other workers trying to better their situation, we lost the backbone that caused us to demand better conditions back in the old days. Everyone who has a knee-jerk stance against unions is basically saying “I like to bend over and take it, and thank the person for the privilege of letting me take it.”

    also re: your Right to Work stance: lol

  32. 6thsense10 says: Mar 27, 2014 2:18 PM

    Why do I keep seeing people say these kids are receiving free education, etc? If something is free then you don’t have to give anything back in return….but I see kids in the weight room, practice, on TV during games, injured….and if they don’t do any and more if those things they don’t get these so called free stuff. Get off the free myth. They work for their scholarships which at the highest level of football and basketball no where reflects the true Market value of the athlete.

  33. general74 says: Mar 27, 2014 4:15 PM

    If college athletes are employees of the university then where does this stop. Are High school athletes employees of your local high school I mean on a smaller scale it is the same thing, high schools still sell tickets to the games and sell tshirts and sweatshirts with the football teams logo on them how is this different. If the difference is because the college kids get a scholarship then so the non scholarship kids would not be employees and would not be entitled to pay? That seems like it could cause some tension in the ranks. Also what about private high schools where kids do go to those schools on scholarships would that not be the same. This whole thing just seems like a slippery sloap that could end up killing sports in america.

  34. gaconservativepolitics says: Mar 29, 2014 5:00 PM

    There is a simple solution, If players form a union, then the NCAA should just strip them of their Amateur eligibility status. However, the NCAA needs to open their books up to prove their Not-for-Profit Status and show where all of the money that they bring in goes to, other than the NCAA Executives pockets. Same with all of the Colleges and Universities Athletic Departments and Programs. As it costs more to go to some college games than it does to go to pro games, and they don’t have the players salaries to pay!

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