WICHITA, Kansas — The National Labor Relations board declared Wednesday that Northwestern University football players are employees of the university and could unionize. The decision could have immense ramifications in collegiate athletics.
Former Wichita State Shocker baseball player, Shane Dennis, says the hot topic Wednesday on his sports talk show on KFH Sports Radio was the decision handed down by the National Labor Relations Board declaring football players at Northwestern University employees off the school.
The players were pushing to be unionized for better healthcare and fewer practice hours, something Dennis says he supports.
“If that’s all their looking for, than good so be it, I fully back them 100%,” said Dennis.
But former Shocker basketball player Jason Perez says the decision also opens up the possibility for players to strike and collective bargaining.
“Why should the 10th man or 11th man on the bench who doesn’t play a lick, whose really just a practice player get paid the same amount as a star player whose bringing in money for the university,” said Perez.
If the decision does further and is put in place at other colleges and universities, the question becomes how would they come up with the funds to compensate the athletes?
“If ticket prices go up, if SAYSO prices go up, does that mean you foreclose some of the mid-level income people from ever being able to come out,” said Dave Dahl, a former WSU basketball player.
KSN reached out to the WSU vice-president and general council Ted Ayres to see what Wichita State would do if the athletes were to ever unionize here.
Ayres said this monumental decision, if it holds up in court could hamper mid-level programs like WSU.
“I think it would make it very difficult for a program like ours to continue as we know it,” said Ayres.
The overall consensus from school officials and former athletes is they feel the athletes are already compensated enough.
“The scholarship is enough and if they don’t like the conditions that the scholarship provides, than move on,” said Dennis.
Northwestern University is planning to appeal the decision handed down by the national labor relations board.