National Labor Relations Board Memo Declares College Athletes ‘Employees’ of Schools, Threatens Schools That Use Term ‘Student-Athlete’
By ESPN // October 1, 2021
would allow players to unionize, negotiate over their 'working conditions'
(ESPN) – College football players and some other athletes in revenue-producing sports at private universities are employees of their schools, the National Labor Relations Board’s top lawyer said in a memo Wednesday that would allow those players to unionize and otherwise negotiate over their working conditions.
NLRB general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo also threatened action against schools, conferences and the NCAA if they continue to use the term “student-athlete,” saying it was created to obscure the employment relationship with college athletes and discourage them from pursuing their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
Abruzzo notes that the act and NLRB law “support the conclusion that certain players at academic institutions are statutory employees, who have the right to act collectively to improve their terms and conditions of employment.”
“The freedom to engage in far-reaching and lucrative business enterprises makes players at academic institutions much more similar to professional athletes who are employed by a team to play a sport, while simultaneously pursuing business ventures to capitalize on their fame and increase their income,” the memo said.
Abruzzo wrote that she hopes the memo will educate athletes, schools, conferences and others throughout college athletics for future cases “regarding employee status and misclassification.”
In a statement released later Wednesday, the NCAA said it believes “college athletes are students who compete against other students, not employees who compete against other employees.”
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