College athletes seek union rights - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

College athletes seek union rights

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A new ruling in college athletics could be a game changer.

A federal agency has given football players at Northwestern University the green light to unionize.

According to the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago, scholarships and the time players devote to their sport put them within the definition of "employees." As a result, they are worthy of union rights.

21 News spoke with several local officials experienced in college sports.

"What benefits now will they be seeking? Higher insurance, physical insurance, pay offs in case they are injured. What happens if they fail to qualify for the football team? If they fail are they going to have union support to keep their team position?" said Harry Meshel, Youngstown State University Board of Trustees member.

"The biggest thing is what you do with Title IX now. Are you going to tell football and basketball players that they are able to unionize? How about the girls' basketball team, can they unionize? Who's going to pay for all of this?" said former sports agent Dr. John Geletka.

"What are institutions going to have to do to try and absorb these costs? In other words, are they going to have to limit the numbers of athletes that they have on their rosters, eliminate sports to try and lower their risk or liability," said Ron Strollo, Youngstown State University Athletic director.

Northwestern says it plans to appeal to the full labor board in Washington, D.C.

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