The director of the National Labor Relations Board's Chicago district ruled today that Northwestern football players do qualify as employees, and as such are entitled to form a union. This is as big as it sounds, but there is a ways to go before amateurism as we know it is ended.
Led by QB Kain Colter, the College Athletes Players Association won a surprisingly quick decision from the NLRB regional office—they filed less than two months ago, and were vociferously opposed by Northwestern and the NCAA. The group seeks fully guaranteed scholarships, better medical protections for injured players, and a fund that will allow athletes to continue their educations after they stop playing.
In the money quote from the decision, the regional director wrote, "I find that players receiving scholarships from the Employer are 'employees.'"
This is only the beginning. As expected, Northwestern announced it will appeal the decision to the NLRB national office. After that, it will be on to federal court, and it will be years before anything is finalized. But the NCAA is being chipped away at from all angles, and it feels like it's only a matter of time before the whole thing crumbles down.
Here, the decision. Below that, our story from January when Colter and CAPA filed for NLRB recognition.