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NCAA among entities to file briefs in Northwestern union case

The NCAA filed an amicus brief Thursday opposing the formation of a labor union representing Northwestern football players. In the brief, the NCAA wrote that granting student-athletes employee status would have consequences that are “far-reaching and destructive.” The brief lists those consequences:

- "Marginalize the importance of educational programs" 

- "Isolate rather than integrate student-athletes as a fundamental part of the student body" 

- "Undercut the demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports" 

- "Undermine the revered tradition of amateurism that colleges and universities have worked tirelessly to preserve for the benefit of students in America"

- "Fundamentally alter the developmental and educational opportunities provided by college athletics" 

- "Usurp the responsibilities entrusted to our academic leaders to determine what priority and role athletics should play in the educational development of the college students placed in their care" 

The NCAA, which issued a statement in March after a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the players, is not a party in the case. The college sports governing body wrote that the facts underpinning the regional director’s decision have existed for decades, and thus it is “inappropriate” to declare student-athletes employees, just as it would have been in the 1950s.

Other entities that submitted briefs before Thursday – the deadline for filings in support or opposition of CAPA’s push to form a union – include five pro sports unions, a person identified as the parent of three Division I athletes, the American Federation of Labor and several republican lawmakers. Northwestern, who is appealing the regional director’s ruling, also filed a brief arguing the regional director overlooked important evidence in handing down his decision.

A group of NU football players in April voted whether to form a union, but the results of the vote were impounded and won’t be released until the conclusion of the case, which could end up in federal court.