Northwestern Football Players’ Union Vote Could Reshape College Sports

The NLRB will review a ruling that college athletes are employees.

Last Friday’s vote by Northwestern University football players on whether to unionize could have sweeping implications for college sports as a whole.

John Challenger of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says a “yes” vote could prompt other teams to follow the Northwestern Wildcats’ lead.

“It’d be interesting to see how it might change the competitive mix amongst teams. Would the best players want to go to the schools without unions or [with] unions? Would more players go straight to the pros and skip the colleges?”

The vote followed a ruling by the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board, holding that the athletes were school employees. Northwestern University has filed an appeal to the NLRB, seeking to overturn the decision. The outcome of the vote is being kept confidential, pending the results of that appeal. 

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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