Sports Business Journal

In an article published April 1, 2024 in the Sports Business Journal, Constangy senior counsel Chris Deubert looked at the implications of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office that ruled that Dartmouth men's basketball players are employees for the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and can form a union. Deubert explained that Dartmouth has appealed the decision, and a final determination is likely years away.

In the article, Deubert delved into the different parties at play and the greater ramifications. The Service Employees International Union, Local 560, representing the players, must demand that Dartmouth negotiate the terms and conditions of the players' "employment," as required by the NLRA. Dartmouth has announced that it will not recognize or negotiate with the union, forcing the union to file an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB. Deubert contended that if the NLRB affirms the Dartmouth decision, it would compel Dartmouth to bargain or face an unfair labor practice charge.

Deubert continued that the scope of the decision is likely to affect only a few of the 352 Division I members of the NCAA, as many are public institutions or private schools with religious affiliations. If Division I student athletes are considered employees under federal and state laws, they may demand salaries of several hundred thousand to more than a million dollars based on the value of some deals using name, image and likeness (NIL).

Deubert concluded that colleges will likely be soul-searching with regards to their athletic programs. “Colleges are evaluating the role of athletics within their academic mission and where they want to be when the dust settles,” Deubert wrote. “The largest would be expected to bid competitively for student athletes’ services. Other Division I tiers may reduce their involvement in athletics, including by cutting some sports, reducing them to club status and loosening their control over student athletes, which might relieve them of an employer-employee designation.”

For the full article, please click here.

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