- The National Labor Relations Board has decided it has no jurisdiction to rule on whether Northwestern University football players have a right to form a union, leaving the players with no one to appeal to.
- The NLRB dismissed the players’ petition, writing that asserting jurisdiction in this case “would not promote labor stability” across the NCAA — primarily because Northwestern is in the minority as a private institution in the Big Ten as well as the Football Bowl Subdivision, and the NLRB has no say over public schools.
- The decision does not prevent future teams from attempting to unionize and does not answer the question of whether athletes are employees.
While Northwestern University football players will not be able to unionize, many consider their efforts to have forced NCAA reform. ESPN reports that schools have begun offering four-year scholarships instead of renewable one-year scholarships, as well as enhanced medical benefits for players, including after they graduate. And the NCAA has created a new seat on its board of directors for a student athlete.
Chicago’s regional NLRB director ruled in March 2014 that Northwestern’s players should be able to unionize. The university’s appeal to that ruling led to Monday’s decision.