CHICAGO (AP) – The National Labor Relations Board has dismissed a historic ruling that Northwestern University football players are school employees who are entitled to form what would be the nation’s first union of college athletes.
The NLRB released its decision Monday. The losing side does not have an option to appeal.
Northwestern had appealed last year’s ruling by a regional NLRB director in Chicago that led to a vote by football players on whether they wanted to form a union. Those ballots were sealed during the appeal and will now be destroyed.
Monday’s ruling says unionization could throw off the “competitive balance” between teams by setting different standards for practice, pay and other conditions at union and non-union schools.
Advocates say unionization would help athletes protect their health and financial interests.
The vice president for university relations at Northwestern says school officials are pleased by a National Labor Relations Board ruling preventing college football players from forming a union.
In a statement released Monday after the decision, Alan K. Cubbage thanked the players for “bringing national attention to these important issues” but said “collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address the concerns.”
Cubbage says the school maintains that participation in athletics isn’t a separate entity from being a student athlete. He says the university will work with the athletes to address their concerns about the long-term health impact of playing intercollegiate sports, including by providing additional academic aid and other opportunities.