The Rock at Northwestern University with Unive...

Northwestern University Is Squandering The Golden Opportunity To Support Its Football Players

In the wake of Wednesday’s Nationwide Labor Relations Board ruling that Northwestern University football players are staff and have the legal appropriate to unionize, the leaders at Northwestern University have a golden possibility to be on the correct side of labor history.  However, it is an opportunity that they really do not look ready to embrace.

Wednesday’s ruling by NLRB Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr provides Northwestern University a bona fide choice of how to proceed in light of this ruling.  The university could both to appeal this ruling to the complete Nationwide Labor Relations Board, or accept its football players’ appropriate to unionize and move towards the potential of coming into collective bargaining negotiations with its football players.

The NCAA obviously would like Northwestern University to maintain litigating.  In current years, college sports’s unique trade association has remained steadfast in its refusal to accept legal rulings that encourage the rights of pupil-athletes, irrespective of regardless of whether these rulings involve publicity law, antitrust law, or now even labor law.

However, Northwestern  University’s greatest public relations move might be to just let Wednesday’s ruling be, not to file an appeal.

By not fighting Wednesday’s ruling, Northwestern University could choose to take control of their personal public relations and become seen as a national leader for pupil-athlete rights. The university could also commence to concentrate on its very likely collective bargaining negotiations with its football players, and a affordable evaluation of where compromise may possibly make sense.

The Rock at Northwestern University with Unive...

The Rock at Northwestern University with University Hall in the background (Photograph credit score: Wikipedia)

If the NCAA as a result had been to attempt to banish Northwestern University for its actions, the university would have an extraordinarily powerful antitrust situation towards the trade association.  Indeed, if the NCAA had been to them banish Northwestern University for its compliance with a National Labor Relations Board order, it appears most likely the courts would strike down factors of the NCAA bylaws as speedily as a  post-touchdown added stage.

There is even some precedent for NCAA member university standing up for their student-athletes rights and getting constructive press for doing so.  Most notably, in the early 1990s litigation Hill v. NCAA, Stanford University intervened and took their players’ side in a lawsuit difficult the NCAA’s necessary drug testing guidelines under California’s state privacy protections.  Stanford University’s willingness on occasion to stand alongside its athletes is one particular of its numerous draws for premier students and athletes.

If Northwestern University makes the brave decision not to appeal Wednesday’s NLRB ruling in favor of its football gamers, the university would right away garner positive brand equity amongst amongst athletes for its willingness to stand up for adjust.

If only Northwestern University leaders weren’t so darn afraid of how the NCAA would react!


Marc Edelman is an Associate Professor of Law at the City University of New York’s Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business, where he has published a lot more than 25 law overview articles on sports activities law matters.  His most latest articles include “A Short Treatise on Amateurism and Antitrust Law” and “The Future of Amateurism after Antitrust Scrutiny.”

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