Debate Over The Status Of Student-Athletes At Major Colleges And Universities

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, second from left, speaks while College Athletes Players Association President Ramogi Huma left, United Steelworkers union official Tim Waters, second from right, and Steelworkers President Leo Gerard listen during a news conference in Chicago, Tuesday, Jan., 28, 2014. Football players at Northwestern University are forming what they say is a first-of-its-kind union for college athletes. Wildcat quarterback Kain Coulter joined union leaders at the press conference to announce the creation of the College Athletes Players Association.  - (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, second from left, speaks while College Athletes Players Association President Ramogi Huma left, United Steelworkers union official Tim Waters, second from right, and Steelworkers President Leo Gerard listen during a news conference in Chicago, Tuesday, Jan., 28, 2014. Football players at Northwestern University are forming what they say is a first-of-its-kind union for college athletes. Wildcat quarterback Kain Coulter joined union leaders at the press conference to announce the creation of the College Athletes Players Association.

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Debate Over The Status Of Student-Athletes At Major Colleges And Universities

A federal agency has ruled that Northwestern University football players are employees and can join a union. What the decision could mean for other student athletes and major sports programs at colleges and universities.

For years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has set the rules and exerted total control over college athletes. But last week, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern University football players are employees, and can form a union and collectively bargain. The NLRB found that these scholarship athletes spent 40 to 50 hours each week on football and were not primarily students. Supporters of the decision say it’s a first step in allowing college players to have a say in key decisions made about them. Critics say it sets up a dangerous precedent that would threaten the existence of non-revenue sports. Diane and a panel of experts discuss the Northwestern decision and what it could mean for the future of college sports.

Guests

Bruce Fein

principal, The Lichfield Group; author of "Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy."

Joe Nocera

opinion columnist, The New York Times

Paul Hewitt

head men's basketball coach, George Mason University

Christine Brennan

national sports columnist, USA Today and on-air sports contributor, ABC News; author of "Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey Through Sports"

Dr. Thomas Powell

president, Mt. St. Mary's University

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