A complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board could lead to student-athletes being considered employees of their schools. The board will hear from the NCAA, the PAC 12, and Southern Cal, citing unfair labor practices.
Tennessee Tech Assistant Professor of History Arthur Banton said he is concerned that this could only benefit athletes who play in high-revenue sports, and that it would not actually benefit a majority of student-athletes.
“It seems like the NLRB seems to be just focusing on the sports that have the most visibility, the ones that generate the most revenue, that is football and basketball,” Banton said. “They seem to be not recognizing the other sports, the majority of sports.”
Banton said he does not believe that this could lead to student-athletes organizing unions. He said he believes a student-athlete union would lead to rifts within locker rooms.
“If you have a situation where yeah we are going to unionize, not all student-athletes may want to join that union,” Banton said. “And of course in doing so you are creating a multi-tier system within the team.”
Banton said one of his main concerns is the effect this will have on students academically. He said this could be an opportunity to learn about business, but by focusing on Name, Image, and License agreements, and building a brand and a social media following, academics can get lost in the shuffle by some athletes.
“This is an opportunity for students to become more engaged in academics, but you also have to have time for that,” Banton said. “there’s already a great demand on time for student-athletes.”
The complaint filed by the NLRB alleges that the NCAA unlawfully classifies athletes as Student-Athletes rather than employees, denying athletes the right to unionize if they chose to do so.