In a decision that could have a ripple effect through college athletics, the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago sided with football players at Northwestern, saying they qualify as employees under federal law and can create the nation’s first college athlete’s union.
The Big Ten institution, based in Evanston, IL, argues that college athletes, as students, don’t fit in the same category as other unionized workers. The school plans to appeal to labor authorities in Washington, D.C.
“While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director’s opinion, we disagree with it,” a statement from Northwestern University read.
How does this affect the University of Nebraska? Chancellor Harvey Perlman was a guest on KLIN’s Drive Time with Kevin Thomas and says that this decision couldn’t apply to any public university.
Perlman disagrees with the decision and does not feel that college athletes fall under the umbrella of unionized workers. Perlman also believes there are several road blocks that must be cleared. For example, would scholarship athletes vs. non-scholarship athletes belong to the same union? The question of whether or not scholarship players from other non-revenue sports would be eligible for the union, is another issue.
It is under Perlman’s impressions, that the Northwestern players are only looking for a voice in the process of policy making. Perlman says the University of Nebraska already has that in place. In terms of compensating student-athletes, Perlman says for the most part, bigger universities are in line with providing more funds, but have their hands tied because of the NCAA.
To listen to the full interview with Kevin Thomas of KLIN, click here.