LEWISBURG — In a ruling that could change college sports, the National Labor Relations Board says football players at Northwestern University have the right to form a union.
That has people wondering if the decision could affect college athletes in our area.
Bucknell University in Lewisburg competes in NCAA Division I sports.
We spoke to students and community members about whether college athletes should be able to unionize.
Northwestern University football players are now considered employees of their school, according to an official with the National Labor Relations Board. That means the athletes have a right to form a union and even go on strike.
Northwestern University, near Chicago, said in a statement it plans to appeal the ruling.
Newswatch 16 spoke to people in Lewisburg as well as Bucknell University students because Bucknell also competes in Division I sports.
“Can you imagine Bucknell basketball team going on strike? Come on!” said Ron Bowman.
Bowman lives in Lewisburg and says he does not agree with the decision.
“If they want to unionize college sports, it’s ridiculous. First off, they shouldn’t be paid.”
Some Bucknell University students, including senior Julie Hendrickson, say they do not view student athletes as university employees.
“I think there’s a big difference between how students view students and how students view employees. I work on campus at the career center and the counselors there are employees of the university. It’s a very different relationship than with the student athletes. We all go to Bucknell. We’re all part of the same student body,” Hendrickson said.
But other Bucknell University students agree with the decision that could allow some college athletes to unionize.
Kyle Shanahan is a sophomore on Bucknell’s lacrosse team and believes certain student athletes should be paid.
“They’re making millions of dollars for their university. I think they should be able to have compensation and be able to unionize. They deserve some of the money and revenue they’re making for their school,” said Shanahan.
It could take a while before the issue of whether college athletes are allowed to unionize is settled once and for all.
Some legal experts believe the case involving Northwestern University will ultimately end up in front of the Supreme Court.