Dartmouth Union Vote Sparks New Student Athlete Bargaining Ideas

March 27, 2024 – Media Mention
Bloomberg Law

Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, was quoted in Bloomberg Law on the new landscape for college athletes given the increasing possibility that they will soon be classified as employees. 

The article notes that classifying players as employees under the National Labor Relations Act "would require colleges, universities, and their athletic governing bodies to share revenue with players and bargain with them over pay and working conditions." While this will provide benefits for college athletes, some have warned that classifying athletes as employees could lead to the shutdown of athletic programs at institutions at which athletics are not profitable.

The article discusses the Dartmouth college men's basketball team, which became the first college sports team to unionize. However, this does not come without uncertainty for athletes since Dartmouth has said that "it will refuse to comply with the National Labor Relations Board bargaining orders until the college can seek court review of the player's employment status," which could take years. 

The article also discusses a pending NLRB case determining whether certain entities can jointly employ football and basketball players, therefore sharing bargaining obligations. Further, the article explores various models for an appropriate bargaining unit, including a conference wide approach or separating out private institutions and public institutions. 

"It's exciting, it's evolution, it's progress," said Kishner. "Fifty years from now, who know what it's going to look like? The only thing I can say for certain is that it's not going to be what it looks like today." 

Read the full article in Bloomberg Law here. Access may require a subscription.