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Statement by Alan K. Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations, in Regard to NLRB Granting Request for Review

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University is pleased that the National Labor Relations Board today granted Northwestern’s request for review of the decision by the NLRB Chicago regional director that Northwestern scholarship football players are employees and may be represented by a union. As the NLRB order stated, Northwestern’s request “raises substantial issues warranting review.”

Northwestern will now prepare its brief on the merits of the case to the NLRB. The NLRB also has invited other interested parties to file amicus briefs. A timetable for the case to be heard has not yet been determined. In all likelihood, the process will take some time, and it could be months before the board issues its decision on whether Northwestern’s scholarship football players are students or employees.

In the interim, the Chicago office of the NLRB will conduct an election tomorrow, April 25, giving Northwestern’s scholarship football players an opportunity to vote by secret ballot on whether they wish to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association. However, the election ballots will be impounded by the NLRB and not counted until the NLRB review process is completed.

Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are students first and foremost, not employees. We believe the recent ruling by the NLRB regional director was flawed and overlooked or ignored key evidence that Northwestern presented supporting that position.

We agree that there currently are important issues regarding college athletics nationally and that students should have a voice in those discussions. However, we believe that a collective bargaining process at Northwestern would not advance the discussion of these topics, in large part because most of the issues being raised by the union are outside the purview of Northwestern.

Northwestern is proud of our students for raising these issues. Northwestern teaches its students to be leaders and independent thinkers who will make a positive impact on their communities, the nation and the world. Our student-athletes already have a strong voice at Northwestern via a Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Leadership Council for the football team. We have worked with our students in the past to address these issues, and we will continue to do so.

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