NLRB invites briefs in Northwestern football case

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is inviting interested parties to submit briefs on the Northwestern University football case. Briefs must be submitted on or before June 26, 2014.

At the request of the university, the NLRB agreed on April 24 to review the decision of a regional director finding that the university’s scholarship football players are employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and therefore are eligible to unionize.

Region 13 Director Peter Sung Ohr issued his ruling on March 26. Then on April 9, the private university, which is located in Evanston, Illinois, asked the full NLRB to review and overturn Ohr’s ruling, claiming he ignored evidence that academics is the school’s primary mission.

Ohr’s ruling paved the way for a union representation election for the 76 scholarship players, which was held on April 25. Because the NLRB is going to consider the issue, the ballots have been impounded pending its decision on the validity of the regional decision.

The players voted on whether they wanted to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), a group headed by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA player.

CAPA’s goals include guaranteed coverage for sports-related medical expenses for current and former players, steps to minimize the risk of sports-related traumatic brain injuries, steps to improve graduation rates, increased athletic scholarships, opportunities for commercial sponsorships, and due-process rights so players aren’t punished just because they’re accused of a rule violation.