The NCAA’s Real March Madness Is Keeping Players From Unionizing

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The fight over the student-athletes’ status continues.

It is March and in the sports’ world that means March Madness and the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament is about ready to start. But the real madness is that National Collegiate Athletic Association members still don’t want to pay their performers, the people who play on the court or on the field and earn money for the NCAA. The NCAA has a problem with Dartmouth University. National Labor Relations Board Regional Director Laura Sacks has decided that Dartmouth basketball players are employees of the school and that means that the basketball players can vote to create a labor union.

In September 2023, the 15 members of the Dartmouth men’s basketball team signed a petition asking to join Local 560 of the Service Employees International Union. If the players do vote to join a union, it will give the players power. The players would become partners with the school and would collectively bargain with Dartmouth officials for salary and working conditions which would include practice hours and travel. Dartmouth associate vice president for communications Diana Lawrence put out a press release which explained that the school would be seeking a review of Sacks’ decision. Needless to say, the school is not pleased with Sacks. “Dartmouth has a long and proud history of productive relationships with unions on campus, always negotiates in good faith when appropriate, and respects the rights of workers to unionize. However, we do not believe these students are employees,” said Lawrence in that statement. The Sacks decision probably has infuriated college poohbahs, who through the NCAA President Charlie Baker, have been pleading with Congress to help the sports organization to have the status quo. Keep the athletes in the student-athlete category and make sure they don’t get paid from the schools and make sure they are not employees.

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