This is huge news as it would give student-athletes a seat at the negotiation table where they could argue for increased safety protocols, advocate various eligibility rules, and even negotiate wages. This is big. It could change the NCAA as we know it.
I, for one, am not in favor of this ruling. While I do believe that the NCAA is corrupt and depriving players of the opportunity to earn income by coordinating age requirements with the NFL and other professional leagues, granting students "employee" status and the ability to unionize would have significant ramifications, including:
- Players would access to workers' compensation for "on-the-job" injuries (in direct contradiction to what we saw in Waldrep v. Texas Employers Insurance Association, 21 S.W.3d 692 (Tex. Ct. App. 2000)), which has led to serious legal issues at the professional level (See California's crazy convoluted laws about athlete workers comp);
- Negotiations could lead to the kinds of strikes we see at the professional level and that could put students' scholarships and classroom access in jeopardy;
- The NCAA sanctions would likely be weaker if a reduction in scholarships was disallowed under a collective bargaining agreement; and
- Non-revenue-generating sports would be dramatically affected as schools invest more of their money back into the revenue-generating sports.
Granted, this is just my initial impression, and I'm open to persuasion given a solid counter-argument. But, on the whole, this ruling scares me.
EDIT: Apologies to JoeBruin who posted about this subject hours before me.