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Filings due in Northwestern union appeal; NCAA releases brief

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
NCAA Football: Syracuse at Northwestern
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Sep 7, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; A detail shot of a Northwestern Wildcats helmet during a game against the Syracuse Orange at Ryan Field. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s been a while since there’s been much movement on the Northwestern unionization front, but on Thursday a few steps will be taken in the process.

According to the Chicago Tribune, both Northwestern and the union seeking to represent Northwestern’s players will “file additional documents backing their positions” on Thursday. The University is appealing the ruling from March made by the National Labor Relations Board that said current scholarship players are employees under the common law definition, allowing them to form a union.

Northwestern’s players subsequently voted if they would want to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association, but their votes will not be revealed until the final ruling is rendered by the labor board.

According to the Tribune, “both sides have until midnight Thursday” to file their documents. A July 31 deadline has been set for the sides to “file responses to each other’s arguments.”

Northwestern maintains that athletes who compete for the school are students, not employees, and that education is the university’s primary commitment to its players.

The National Labor Relations Board invited the public and other interested parties to file documents concerning the issue. The Tribune is reporting that an anonymous parent and a professor have filed briefs on the issue, and more interestingly, the NCAA filed a brief of its own on Thursday afternoon.

The NCAA’s brief stated that it is not a party to Northwestern’s case (as NU requested), but makes it clear that it supports the university’s appeal.

The brief includes a statement from NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy.

“Over past 70 years, more than a million student-athletes have received athletics scholarships, and no legal entity has determined that these scholarships transform students into employees under the National Labor Relations Act,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “There is no legitimate reason that they should be considered such today. While there certainly are improvements to be made to the college model of sports, transforming the relationship between students and their university to an employment relationship is not the answer.”

The brief echoed sentiments the NCAA has made innumerable times, saying that maintaining the current collegiate model is “crucial to preserving an environment where participation in sports is properly integrated into the total education experience.”

Thanks for weighing in, guys.

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