The NLRB decision involving Northwestern University’s football team is as bizarre as they come. The decision did not address the issue whether the players were University employees. Rather, it was decided that granting the students bargaining rights would be too disruptive to labor policy. This leaves the fundamental issue (employee or not) to another decision on another day.
As a matter of legal reasoning, this decision leaves much to be desired. Imagine the US Supreme Court having a case before it but deciding, darn it, that the issues are just too tough to address.
No doubt the NCAA and the power conferences are overjoyed with the outcome. For them, the issue has always been about control and money. It was the NCAA that came up with the phrase “student-athletes”, a clear ruse designed to make it appear that the students were of any concern to that organization.