COLUMBUS — An Ohio legislative panel changed a budget bill on Monday to make clear that college athletes are not employees under state law, following a recent ruling from a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that Northwestern University football players could unionize.
The ruling said full scholarship players can be considered employees and thus have the right to form a union.
The Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee amended a midterm budget proposal Monday to clarify that college athletes are not considered employees.
Chairman Ron Amstutz, a Wooster Republican, told reporters the change came from staff and could have little impact. “But if it ever comes up, it will be in the law for clarification,” he said.
The amendment was among dozens made to the budget bill, which is on track for a committee vote on Tuesday and a likely vote by the full House on Wednesday.
Northwestern players will vote April 25 on whether to become the first college athletes represented by a union. But it could be years, if ever, before college athletes are given a seat at the bargaining table to discuss things like practice hours, medical care and concussions.
Only players currently on scholarship and participating in football activities will cast ballots, totaling around 70 current members of the squad.
Northwestern has until Wednesday to ask the full, five-member NLRB in Washington to review the landmark decision by the regional director. If the full board upholds the ruling, the university also could challenge that decision in federal appeals court.