General counsel for NLRB declares athletes at private schools are employees

Jennifer Abruzzo, general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, just issued a memo saying that athletes at private schools are employees and can unionize. There’s no way this remains limited to only private schools.

I know virtually nothing about employment law and related issues but to say this is gonna open a can of worms seems like a gross understatement. If athletes are employees, doesn’t that make their scholarships taxable income? If the Northwestern basketball team enters into a union contract with the school, does Title IX require the same negotiated benefits go to every female athlete at the school? Can players now be fired for failing to perform?

Seems like this is gonna get messy real fast.

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I’m no expert either in the law and logistics of all this, but I don’t know why it’s being overcomplicated where people have to question taxing scholarships and all that. The athletes will just become student-employees. Just like the students who work in the libraries, dining halls, residential halls, etc. Those student-employee’s scholarships aren’t taxed (as long as they use that awarded money to pay tuition and qualified expenses) and they earn separate taxable income from the school. I feel like the schools and NCAA are just overcomplicating it as a way to further delay things in a “oh this is so hard to figure out lets just forget about it” move.


Exactly. A tuition reimbursement from teaching as a student at umich isn’t treated as taxable income, but any additional income received above and beyond that certainly is. Athletes will have to pay taxes on any income from NIL deals as well. These aren’t even easily solvable problems–they’re not problems at all.


It’s only a problem when you don’t want to cover their workers compensation and long-term disability premiums.

tuition isn’t taxable from a scholarship, nor are things like books, but things like shoes and jerseys and t shirts and all the other swag players get is probably taxable as I understand it as they are not related to education.