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College presidents say no to unions for athletes

Ex-Northwestern football player Michael Odom addressed reporters on April 25 as former teammates voted on whether to approve a players union, which universities like Northwestern haven't supported. Photo:

Ex-Northwestern football player Michael Odom addressed reporters on April 25 as former teammates voted on whether to approve a players union, which universities like Northwestern haven't supported.

WASHINGTON (AP) A national organization representing college and university presidents is disputing a federal ruling that students who receive college athletic scholarships are essentially employees of their schools and thus entitled to join unions and exercise collective-bargaining rights.

Student-athletes participate for their own benefit; they do not render services for compensation, said the 1,800 member American Council on Education.

Ahead of a midnight deadline, the council filed a 30-page friend-of-the court brief taking strong issue with the ruling earlier this year by a National Labor Relations Board regional director that allows college athletes at Northwestern University to unionize.

The full labor board is weighing the case.

In its own brief, the fledgling College Athletes Players Association argues that Northwestern football is a commercial enterprise from which the university derives substantial financial benefits.

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