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Dartmouth men’s basketball team votes to unionize in MASSIVE blow to NCAA’s amateur model… as school says it is ‘inaccurate’ to consider Big Green players employees

The Dartmouth men’s basketball team voted to unionize Tuesday — an unprecedented move that represents a huge blow to the NCAA’s deteriorating amateur business model.

Although the NCAA has long maintained that its players are “student-athletes” who were in school primarily to study, college sports have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry that richly rewards coaches and schools while the players remain unpaid amateurs.

Recent court decisions have taken away that framework, with players now allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness and earn a still-limited stipend for living expenses on top of the cost of participation. Last month’s decision that the Big Green players are employees of the school, with the right to form a union, threatens to upend the amateur model.

In an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board in the school’s human resources on Tuesday, the players voted 13-2 to join Service Employees International Union Local 560, which already represents some Dartmouth employees. Every player on the roster voted.

“Today is a big day for our team,” said Dartmouth juniors Cade Haskins and Romeo Myrthil, who took the lead. “We stuck together all season and won this election. It goes without saying that we as students can also be both campus employees and union members. Dartmouth seems stuck in the past. It is time for the era of amateurism to end.”

Dartmouth basketball players Cade Haskins (left) and Romeo Myrthil are seen Tuesday

Players on Big Green's basketball team want to be considered employees of the school

Players on Big Green’s basketball team want to be considered employees of the school

In a statement, the NCAA said athletes should not be forced into an employment model.

“The association believes that change in college sports is long overdue and is committed to significant reform. However, there are some issues that the NCAA cannot resolve alone, and the association looks forward to working with Congress to make the necessary changes in the best interests of all student-athletes,” the NCAA said.

The school quickly appealed to the full NLRB, seeking to overturn the regional official’s decision last month that Dartmouth players are employees and therefore have the right to unionize. Both parties also have until March 12 to file objections with the NLRB on the election procedures; other than that, the SEIU will be certified as the bargaining representative of the employees.

“For Ivy League students who are varsity athletes, academics are of primary importance and athletics are part of the educational experience,” the school said in a statement.

“Classifying these students as employees simply because they play basketball is both unprecedented and inaccurate. We therefore do not believe that unionization is appropriate.”

The school quickly appealed the decision to the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday

The school quickly appealed the decision to the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday

Dartmouth's Myrthil (left) said: 'Today is a big day for our team.  We stayed together all season...'

Dartmouth’s Myrthil (left) said: ‘Today is a big day for our team. We stayed together all season…’

The case could also end up in federal court, which would likely delay collective bargaining agreement negotiations until long after the current members of the basketball team graduate.

Dartmouth had told students that organizing a union could result in the team being kicked out of the Ivy League or even the NCAA. In a statement, the school said it supports the five unions it negotiates with on campus, including SEIU Local 560, but emphasized that the players are students and not employees.

“I think this is just the beginning,” Haskins said after the vote. “I think this will have a knock-on effect on other cases across the country, and that could lead to other changes.”

A separate complaint being heard by the NLRB asks that football and basketball players in Southern California be considered employees of their school, the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA.

And an earlier attempt to unify the Northwestern football team failed because opponents in the Big Ten include public schools that are not under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board.

Northwestern's football team previously attempted to form a union, but the attempt was unsuccessful

Northwestern’s football team previously attempted to form a union, but the attempt was unsuccessful

Marc Edelman, a law professor at Baruch College in New York, said that even if Dartmouth prevails in its efforts to stop the players from unionizing, it is unlikely to set a precedent to prevent similar moves. quitting well-known, revenue-generating college sports programs. .

“It does not seem likely that this would rule out the possibility that the college football and basketball teams within conferences such as the SEC and the Big Ten are still moving forward with an effort to unionize,” Edelman said.

That’s why one of the NCAA’s biggest threats doesn’t come from one of the major football programs like Alabama or Michigan, which are largely indistinguishable from professional sports teams.

Instead, it’s the academically oriented Ivy League, founded in 1954, where players receive no athletic scholarships, teams play in sparsely filled gymnasiums and the games are streamed online rather than broadcast on network TV.