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Dartmouth Asserts to NLRB: Basketball Players are Students, Not Employees

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Dartmouth Argues Basketball Players are Students, Not Employees

Dartmouth College's legal team appeared before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to argue that the school's basketball players should not be classified as employees. The lawyers emphasized that the players are unpaid members of a money-losing program and receive need-based scholarships that are not contingent on their participation or talent. Dartmouth's attorney, Joe McConnell, asserted that the classification of the players as "student-athletes" is appropriate at the institution, highlighting the school's commitment to prioritize academic and personal growth over athletics. The NCAA and its member schools have long maintained that college athletes are students who choose to participate in sports and should not be compensated beyond scholarships. However, recent developments, including a Supreme Court ruling, have challenged this model and allowed athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. While some college football powerhouses have acknowledged the inevitability of revenue sharing with players, the situation is different in the Ivy League, where athletic scholarships are not offered. Dartmouth's basketball program operates at a financial loss, according to documents presented during the NLRB hearing. McConnell emphasized that the program does not generate revenue for the school and is instead an expense incurred as part of Dartmouth's participation in the Ivy League. All 15 members of the Dartmouth men's basketball team have petitioned to join a local union, seeking the ability to negotiate salary and working conditions. Dartmouth has opposed the unionization effort, arguing that the players are not employees. The NLRB hearing will continue in the coming weeks, with Dartmouth highlighting the rejection of previous attempts to unionize athletes. The decision on whether college athletes are employees remains open, but the NLRB's general counsel has stated that athletes should be considered employees, challenging the notion of "student-athlete" as a misleading term. Dartmouth's basketball program's financial figures, including general donations and revenue from broadcasting contracts and tournaments, were not included in the school's testimony.

Implications of Dartmouth's Argument for New Businesses

Dartmouth College's argument that their basketball players are students, not employees, could have significant implications for new businesses, particularly those in the sports and education sectors. The case underscores the ongoing debate about the role and rights of student-athletes, a discussion that could shape the future of college sports and the businesses that revolve around it.

The Changing Landscape of College Sports

The traditional model of college sports, where athletes are seen as students first and their athletic participation is considered an extracurricular activity, is being challenged. Recent developments, including a Supreme Court ruling, have opened the door for athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. This shift could potentially disrupt the business models of companies that rely on the unpaid labor of student-athletes.

Opportunities and Challenges for New Businesses

While this shift presents challenges, it also offers opportunities for new businesses. Companies that can adapt to this changing landscape and offer services or products that align with the evolving rights and needs of student-athletes could gain a competitive edge. However, businesses must also be prepared to navigate the legal and ethical complexities that come with this shift, as the Dartmouth case highlights. In conclusion, Dartmouth's argument and the broader debate about the status of student-athletes could significantly impact the strategies and operations of new businesses in the sports and education sectors.
Story First Published at: https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/dartmouth-tells-nlrb-that-basketball-players-are-students-for-real-not-employees
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