NLRB files complaint against USC, Pac-12, NCAA, arguing student-athletes are employees

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 02 Pac-12 Championship - Utah vs USC
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Several years ago, Northwestern football players tried to prove that they are employees within the confines of federal labor laws, opening the door for unionization. It didn’t work.

Now, the National Labor Relations Board is taking another run at the issue. Via Liz Mullen of Sports Business Daily, the NLRB filed a complaint on Thursday against USC, the Pac-12, and the NCAA regarding the core question of whether control exercised over student-athletes transforms them into employees.

The NLRB seeks an order forcing USC to re-classify “student-athletes” as employees.

Per the report, the issue centers on USC handbook rules that specify how players should conduct themselves on social media and during interviews. These rules, in row opinion of the NLRB, speak to a level of control that arguably makes the players into employees.

The complaint contends that the players have been deliberately misclassified in order to prevent them from engaging in “protected concerted activities” through union representation.

The school, the conference, and the NCAA issued separate statements disagreeing with the claim. USC contends that the proposed finding “would significantly undermine the educational experiences of our student-athletes.” The Pac-12 “strongly disagrees” (a close cousin to “strenuously objects”) to the effort. The NCAA claims the effort “appears to be driven by a political agenda and is the wrong way to help student-athletes succeed.”

It’s another example of the long-overdue reckoning that big-money college sports has avoided, for decades. The comeuppance commenced in 2021, with the opening of the NIL floodgates and the ensuing chaos that college sports deserves. Perhaps it will continue with a recognition that the players are employees, and that they should have the right to band together and demand more favorable terms of employment.

A hearing has been set for November 7.

7 responses to “NLRB files complaint against USC, Pac-12, NCAA, arguing student-athletes are employees

  1. Go ahead, make them employees. That will cut the NIL money off real quick.

  2. finfanjim says:
    May 19, 2023 at 1:49 pm
    Go ahead, make them employees. That will cut the NIL money off real quick.

    Why would it do that? NFL players are employees and they can have all endorsement deals they want.

  3. Awesome! Players will be employees, then they can get a salary or wages (hourly), get benefits, etc. What’s best is that these players…er…employees…will be subject to all of the policies and disciplinary actions that all of the other University employees have to deal with. This also means that the coaching staff could FIRE a player for being late to practice, off-field incidents, mouthing off to the media, disobeying coaches, social media content that paints their employer in a bad light, etc. The NLRB doesn’t care about ANY of this, they simply want more dues-paying union members. No more scholarships or NIL. This will kill PAC-12 recruiting.

  4. Good, make them “contract employees”, they pay for tuition, housing, books, etc…enter the transfer portal the “contract employee” and the other school pay a penalty.

  5. Would this apply to EVERY college athlete?

    What about lower ranked sports programs where they don’t get big games or are D2.

    How will it work with student athletes getting paid there?

    Most schools do not have big athletics programs.

    Will this cause all but the top football, basketball, and maybe a couple of others (baseball?) to cancel sports because of its cost.

  6. I thought this was all thrashed around a long time ago.
    As most have said, and should be ridiculously obvious, is that hundreds of schools will simply drop sports entirely if they have to treat athletes as employees.
    Oh well, they have deep pockets. They can afford to file frivolous lawsuits. They’re just trying to jump on the college athletic money train.

  7. And what happens when this trickles down to the high school level and even youth sports? Will they be classified as employees? Will child labor laws come into effect?
    This will shutdown 99.9% of high school and youth sports programs and dry up the talent pool for pro sports.

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