Hearing on Paying College Athletes Stirs Up Congress

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A hearing on paying college athletes stirred up Congress in recent weeks. In May, the U.S. House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on the topic of paying college NCAA athletes. This is just one of the latest developments in the continuing fallout from the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) decision to allow Northwestern University football players to form a union, which experts believe could open the door to paying college athletes in revenue sports like football and men’s basketball.


In the wake of the March NRLB decision, a diversity of interests, ranging from labor unions to university presidents, have been making the rounds in the halls of Congress to talk about paying college athletes.  Lawmakers and witnesses provided testimony on both sides during the hearing.


According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, California Democrat George Miller, characterized the issue as a “classic labor dispute” and stated that “by banding together and bargaining, these athletes can win the kinds of things union workers have demanded and won across the country.”  On the other side of the aisle, Minnesota Republican John P. Kline Jr. expressed concerns about the system, and protecting “athletic and academic integrity of higher education.”


In response to the pending Northwestern labor decision, the NCAA has approved increased meal stipends for players, and has given the bigger ‘power conferences’ more power to self-regulate, which may include increases in scholarship funding and health care benefits for athletes. This will continue to play out over the summer in advance of the release of the results of the Northwestern football team union vote.


The players union decision is being withheld pending additional NRLB review and is expected sometime this summer.


With more than 25 years of experience representing individuals and businesses in the areas of sports law and business litigation, James J. “Jim” Thomas II is recognized as an expert across Georgia.  If you or your business needs assistance in sports law, business ventures, handling complex business litigation, or in the analysis, evaluation, and resolution of existing and potential litigation in sports law cases, give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 or email him today to set up a consultation.  To learn more about Jim, please visit www.litigationatlanta.com.

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