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The Dartmouth
April 18, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Basketball players file petition to unionize

They mark the first Division 1 team to do so in the NIL era


On Wednesday, the men’s basketball team filed a petition to pursue unionization with the National Labor Relations Board, according to docket filings from the Board. They are the first Division 1 team to do so in the NIL era, in which collegiate athletes can profit off their name, image and likeness.

Listing 15 players but excluding managers and supervisors, the petition seeks to join Service Employees International Union Local 560, based in Hanover. Contingent upon the petition’s approval, the players would be considered Dartmouth College employees with rights to bargain for benefits, pay and working conditions. The filing does not note whether coaches would be union-eligible.

The case has been assigned to the Board’s regional office in Boston, which will review the petition through investigation and a potential hearing. The regional office could also appeal the decision to the Board’s national board and federal courts.

In Sept. 2021, a memo from the Board’s general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo argued for the consideration of student athletes at private universities as employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

“We have the utmost respect for our students and for unions generally,” College spokesperson Jana Barnello, said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY Sports. “We are carefully considering this petition with the aim of responding promptly yet thoughtfully in accordance with Dartmouth’s educational mission and priorities.”

This petition comes just two years after the National Collegiate Athletics Association Division 1 Board of Directors modified their NIL policy, enabling student athletes to profit off their NIL rights.  In 2014, the Northwestern University football team attempted to unionize, but the Board ultimately dismissed their petition in 2015 as the impact on college sports would not have provided “stability in labor relations” according to the New York Times.