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SBD/April 25, 2014/Colleges
NLRB Grants Review Over Unionization Ruling As Northwestern Players Prepare To Vote
Published April 25, 2014
BALANCE OF POWER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Douglas Belkin cited experts as saying that regardless of the outcome of the union vote, the "balance of power between student-athletes and the schools they play for has shifted." Univ. of Illinois professor Michael LeRoy said, "This marks a turning point. They are openly questioning the amateur athlete paradigm. This is a signature moment in the history of college athletics." The NCAA on Thursday took the initial steps of allowing the five power conferences to make independent decisions, and West Virginia AD Oliver Luck said, "Changes are coming. There is a lot of discussion about ... what it means to be an amateur athlete in the 21st century." He added that the consensus is that restrictions "now imposed on schools with regard to how they treat players ... need to loosen." Luck: "The demands on the players have just changed a lot since I was a player. I think there is going to have to be a lot more autonomy for the schools to deal with that" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/25).
PRESIDENTIAL IMPLICATIONS: ESPN.com's Farrey & Munson cite labor experts and law professors as expecting that the NLRB will agree with Ohr's ruling that the players "are employees and entitled to form a union." President Barack Obama's three appointments to the board "are pro-union and are expected to support a campaign that has been supported by the United Steelworkers" (ESPN.com, 4/25). SI.com's Andy Staples wrote under the header, "Northwestern Union Vote Intriguing, But NLRB Ruling More Significant" (SI.com, 4/24). In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein writes no matter how the players vote, former NU QB Kain Colter, who is leading the unionization efforts, and CAPA have "already won." NU also has "won because now more people know about its 97 percent graduation rate and its policy of awarding four-year scholarships." If the majority of players "vote 'no' to the union, NU coach Pat Fitzgerald will have won too," as he "made this vote a referendum on how he treats his players and whether they believe he has their backs." The "only loser is the lame status quo" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/25).