Edward J. Krill

The Dartmouth College Men’s Basketball Team recently petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for recognition of their rights as “employees” of the College to form a union and bargain over their relationship to the School. On February 5, 2024, the Regional Director of the NLRB ruled that these students are employees and have the right to demand recognition and to bargain as a group over their scholarship and related arrangements with the College. The basis for this decision was that players perform a service for compensation under the control of the School.

The purpose of this article is to illustrate the complex implications of recognizing student athletes as employees. Each topic in this overview would benefit from in-depth research and further evaluation. The goal is to simply remind those considering this change that there’s a lot to be thought through.

That NLRB decision has been challenged by the College and is expected to receive attention from the judicial system, perhaps eventually the United States Supreme Court. The debate over the question of employee status is well covered elsewhere. This article is about some of the consequences of employee status for college athletes, should employee status ultimately be recognized.

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