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Unionizing Student Athletes: An Overview of What Lies Ahead

The biggest news yesterday in the sports law world was of course that Northwestern’s Kain Colter is seeking to unionize his fellow members of the Wildcat football team. While this is certainly a big deal, it is a long way from coming to fruition and is fraught with obstacles that must be overcome. Moreover, unionizing college athletes will also open a pandora’s box of secondary issues that will have to be addressed. Tax-exemptions, Title-IX, the O’Bannon antitrust suit, and a slew of other issues will have to be addressed if the landscape of collegiate-athletics is overhauled by unionizing the players.

One thing that is certain is there will be plenty to discuss and debate over the coming weeks, months, and years. We will of course provide updates and opinions along the way.

In the meantime, to get you started, two of our writers give their takes on yesterday’s big news.  Jeremy, writes about the difficulties in classifying student-athletes as employees, and Sean writes about the potential pitfalls and consequences if indeed the student-athletes are able to unionize.

Read Jeremy’s article here: All Courts United: Why, Despite Kain Colter’s Best Efforts, It Is Unlikely He Will Succeed In Unionizing College Athletes

Read Sean’s article here: Down the Rabbit Hole: The Unlikely and Fantastical Theory of a College Sports Union

About Andrew Sensi

Andrew lives in Reston, Virginia and works in a boutique firm which specializes in civil litigation and intellectual property. He has worked in sports at various levels and capacities since high school as a coach, manager, and in the legal department of a leading sports agency. Andrew graduated magna cum laude from Tulane University School of Law in 2012 with a certificate in Sports Law. While at Tulane, Andrew served as an officer for the Sports Law Society, and as Business Editor for The Sports Lawyers Journal. Prior to attending Tulane, Andrew graduated from the University of Virginia in 2007 with a degree in Economics.

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Academic misconduct in the NCAA has become a bit of a hot button issue in the last decade, as the NCAA is categorizing academic improprieties as an impermissible extra benefit. When looking at academic fraud involving NCAA student-athletes, the million-dollar question is “What should the NCAA’s role be in assessing and punishing academic fraud?”


  1. Is the NCAA in need of reform? Absolutely. And, I think people who work in college athletics (including the NCAA) would agree, and they are working to reform the system. But, I disagree that the NCAA is going the way of the Dinosaur or that it should be overhauled.
    Calipari’s proposals reflect a similar notion. It is not about a free market or pay-for-play or any of the extremist ideas. It is about making the lives of these athletes better, making things a little more fair. Stipends, insurance, guaranteed scholarships are all small reforms (by comparison) that go a long way. Problem is, just like Congress, getting hundreds of competing interests to come together is not always easy, no matter how well intentioned the voters may be.

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