Unionization and College Athletics: An Emerging Legal, Ethical, and Practical Quandary
Management and Administrative Sciences Review
ISSN or ISBN
The issue of paying college athlete has very “loudly and clearly” been brought to the public’s attention by the recent decision of a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board which ruled that a group of Northwestern University football players were more than ”just” student athletes, but actually “employees” of the university pursuant to U.S. labor law. The students then would have the right to form and join a union and to bargain collectively for wages and benefits as well as other aspects of employment. This article discusses the legal, ethical, and practical ramifications of paying college athletes. The article presents the legal environment for the NLRB decision as well as the rationales therefor and the expected appeal process. The article makes ethical conclusions as to the morality of paying college athletes as well as their potential unionization pursuant to three ethical theories – Ethical Egoism, Utilitarianism, and Kantian ethics. Finally, the authors offer some recommendations for university administrators and other key stakeholders.
Cavico, Frank J.; Mujtaba, Bahaudin G.; and Rosenberg, R., "Unionization and College Athletics: An Emerging Legal, Ethical, and Practical Quandary" (2015). HCBE Faculty Articles. 519.