- A regional official from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled Monday that players on the Dartmouth College men’s basketball team have the right to unionize as employees of the school, setting up an election to create the first-ever labor union for NCAA athletes.1
- NLRB Regional Director Laura Sacks explained in a written statement that since 'Dartmouth has the right to control the work performed' by its basketball team, and the players work in exchange for compensation, the 'players are employees within the meaning of the (National Labor Relations) Act.'2
- Previously, all 15 members of the team in September signed a petition asking to join Local 560 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents other Dartmouth employees. The team and the university argued before the NLRB during a four-day hearing in October, with Dartmouth arguing that extracurricular activities are part of players pursuing an academic mission.3
- The team is expected to vote on unionization soon and needs just a simple majority to form college sports' first union. In addition to establishing wage standards for players, a collective bargaining agreement could establish standards for working conditions, such as practice times and travel arrangements.4
- This is the second major effort to unionize in college sports in a decade. In 2014, the Northwestern football team held a vote to unionize, but the ballots were impounded and destroyed after the NLRB overruled a regional official.1
- In 2021, the US Supreme Court ruled against a longstanding NCAA policy prohibiting athletes from receiving any compensation, arguing the rule violated antitrust laws. Dartmouth said Tuesday it will appeal the ruling.5
- Narrative A, as provided by Yardbarker. This is a major victory for labor justice and student-athletes who work tirelessly for their schools' programs, generating revenue without receiving compensation. The emergence of recent labor deals allows some athletes to earn money, but most NCAA athletes don't have a big enough following to do the same. Hopefully, a unionized Dartmouth basketball team will set a path for other programs to follow.
- Narrative B, as provided by BroBible. This decision could spell the end of the NCAA and college sports as we know them. These deals might not appropriately reward non-star players, but a broad interpretation of this ruling could mean that non-revenue sports teams could unionize and demand wages. This is a Pandora's box that shouldn't be opened.