Should College Athletes Get Collective-Bargaining Rights?

A National Labor Relations Board ruling categorizes Northwestern University football players as employees, a move that could rock college sports.

National Journal
Sophie Quinton
March 31, 2014, 5:56 a.m.

Here’s a roundup of the edu­ca­tion art­icles that caught Next Amer­ica’s eye from March 24 to March 31. All ad­dress trends that par­tic­u­larly af­fect minor­ity stu­dents.

Stu­dents, or em­ploy­ees? A re­gion­al Na­tion­al Labor Re­la­tions Board dir­ect­or says that North­west­ern Uni­versity foot­balls play­ers are tech­nic­ally “em­ploy­ees” of the uni­versity, and there­fore have the right to uni­on­ize. Ex­pect lots of leg­al chal­lenges to the de­cision, which the uni­versity is already plan­ning on ap­peal­ing to the full NLRB in Wash­ing­ton. Col­lect­ive bar­gain­ing could po­ten­tially help stu­dent ath­letes get guar­an­teed health care cov­er­age for sports-re­lated in­jur­ies, or re­ceive pay­ment for com­mer­cial spon­sor­ships. New York Times, In­side­HigherEd, Politico

Ra­cial Di­vide on Pay­ing Stu­dent Ath­letes. Over­all, most Amer­ic­ans don’t think col­lege ath­letes should be paid. But two re­cent polls find a ra­cial di­vide on the is­sue. Fifty-three per­cent of Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans sup­port pay­ing ath­letes, a sur­vey from HBO Real Sports and Mar­ist Col­lege found; among white re­spond­ents, the share was 28 per­cent. “I think it’s in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to ig­nore the fact that you have an un­paid labor force that is pre­dom­in­antly Afric­an-Amer­ic­an and an in­cred­ibly highly paid man­age­ment sys­tem that’s pre­dom­in­antly white,” said Keith Stru­dler, head of the Mar­ist Cen­ter for Sports Com­mu­nic­a­tion. In­side High­er Ed

New York’s Se­greg­ated Schools. New York state’s pub­lic schools are the most ra­cially se­greg­ated in the na­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Civil Rights Pro­ject at the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia (Los Angeles). Schools are also di­vided by in­come: In 2010, the typ­ic­al Afric­an-Amer­ic­an or Latino stu­dent at­ten­ded a school where close to 70 per­cent of his class­mates were low in­come, while the typ­ic­al white stu­dent at­ten­ded a school where less than 30 per­cent of his class­mates were low in­come. In New York City, 73 per­cent of charter schools have less than 1 per­cent white en­roll­ment. The re­port calls those schools “apartheid schools.” AP

Re­cent Vet­er­ans Do­ing Just Fine in Col­lege. Vet­er­ans who used the GI Bill to go to col­lege between 2002 and 2010 gradu­ated at a rate com­par­able to non­vet­er­an stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from Stu­dent Vet­er­ans of Amer­ica. About 40 per­cent of the vet­er­ans in­volved in the study had already earned a de­gree be­fore us­ing their GI Bill be­ne­fits — likely as­so­ci­ate’s de­grees earned with De­fense De­part­ment tu­ition as­sist­ance while on act­ive duty. The Chron­icle of High­er Edu­ca­tion

Fed­er­al Stu­dent-Loan For­give­ness Plan Has a Cost. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion wants stu­dent-loan bor­row­ers to be aware of in­come-based re­pay­ment pro­grams, in­clud­ing an op­tion that al­lows bor­row­ers to be for­giv­en all re­main­ing pay­ments after 20 or 25 years. But it’s not free money: Debt for­give­ness counts as in­come, and tak­ing ad­vant­age of the op­tion will likely lead to a tax bill. Of­fi­cials from the Edu­ca­tion and Treas­ury de­part­ments say that stu­dents who opt for debt for­give­ness will still end up pay­ing less over­all. Politico

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