Northwestern Football Players, CAPA win the First Round

Matt Marton-USA; TODAY Sports

Round 1 goes to the players in their attempt to get "employee" status. The question is, how long will this last?

This was a _______(insert your own adjective) win for college football players today. Peter Sung Ohr, the regional director for the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) made his ruling today, finding that the Northwestern football players under the College Players Athletic Association (CAPA) have the right to unionize. This ruling came one day before its deadline. You can read the decision here.

The decision was specifically limited to only cover scholarship football players, who still have eligibility to play at Northwestern University. Its reason for doing so was because scholarship players are the ones receiving $61,000 in compensation. So, though there are 112 players including walk-ons, only the 85 who have scholarships can participate in the union.

When he addressed the issue of compensation, Mr. Ohr stated that "the fact that the employer does not treat these scholarships or stipends as taxable income is not dispositive of whether it is compensation." This is only one of the considerations in determining whether a benefit is compensation. Mr. Ohr also looked at the "tender" that is signed by each player before getting his scholarship and equated it to an employment contract. Finally, at least regarding "compensation," he said that "although only two players have had the misfortune of losing their scholarships during the past five years, the threat nevertheless hangs over the entire team and provides a powerful incentive for them to attend practices and games, as well as abide by all the rules they are subject to," Ohr wrote. That backs up CAPA's claim that even though Fitzgerald has been a good boss, he is still a boss."

The decision goes on, and on, and on ... and on, like any legal decision. However, when you finish reading the thing, you will come to the conclusion that this is a well-written, and thoughtful decision. If you don't want to read it, just take my word for it.

My Intelligent Legal Analysis

Now come the part you all pay large sums of money for ... what does Randall think about all of this?

First, you need to understand something about attorneys. We aren't paid $$$ to think about the ramifications of a decision. Contrary to popular opinion, that is what the legislature is for. All we do is take facts, put them to the law, and come to a conclusion ... PHEW, I'm glad I got that off my chest!

Not that the out of the bag, I think Mr. Ohr made the right decision, at least under the current definition of "compensation." You can go back and forth all day long, but at the end of the day, now that you're tired of arguing, coming to a different conclusion isn't all that easy. Let's face it, these kids are brought to school to play football. As long as the kid graduated from high school with a majority of C-minuses, he'll get a look from most universities. That kid then goes to college, is forced to commit very large amounts of time to football, generally takes easy classes (or in the case of North Carolina ... sits in a lecture hall with a made-up class and no professor). Taking a look at the facts, and the law, the scholarship players are compensated.

If you don't like it, don't whine to me about ramifications ... whine to the NLRB. If you don't agree, and there is a very large percentage of people who don't, get the rule CHANGED ... until then, we have to let the current process play itself out. The NCAA, and Northwestern University can file a supersedeus bond to get the Mr. Ohr's ruling stayed until after the appeal is over. The players probably won't get to actually hold an election for months or years.

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