Sports

In February 2024, the regional director for the Region 1 office of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) ruled that the men’s basketball team for Dartmouth College (“Dartmouth”) are university employees, allowing the team to proceed with an election to unionize. This ruling came months after the men’s basketball team filed a petition to unionize and join the Service Employees International Union, Local 560 (“Local 560”), which Dartmouth challenged. After the ruling, Dartmouth submitted an emergency motion to stay the election or impound the votes. However, the motion was denied, and on March 5th the Dartmouth men’s basketball team held an official election and voted 13-2 in favor of joining Local 560.

This is not the first time that the NLRB has evaluated the employment status of college athletes. In 2015, the NLRB evaluated a petition to unionize from Northwestern University’s football team. The regional office ruled that the Northwestern players were employees, but the case was subsequently appealed to, and reversed by, the NLRB[1] based on jurisdictional grounds, leaving the issue of student-athletes as employees unresolved.

Joining a union could provide additional rights to the Dartmouth basketball players, such as the ability to negotiate for compensation or better working conditions. However, allowing student-athletes to join a union could cause ripple effects for other colleges and universities and their athletic teams.

This post outlines the key takeaways from the Dartmouth ruling; what this ruling could mean for Dartmouth, other student-athletes, and other universities; and the likely next steps for Dartmouth.Continue Reading Men’s Basketball Team Scores With NLRB Ruling