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Dartmouth basketball players vote to unionize

At just 5-21 overall this season and in last place in the Ivy League, Dartmouth’s men’s basketball team still could down in history for its attempts to blaze a trail and become the first college athletes to unionize.

The 15-player roster voted 13-2 to unionize, Sportico reported Tuesday, and be represented by Service Employees International Union Local 560.

The on-campus vote was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.

“It’s time for the age of amateurism to end,” Dartmouth basketball player representatives Cade Haskins and Romeo Myrthil said in a statement. “We call on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees and President (Sian) Beilock to live the truth of her own words and cultivate ‘brave spaces’ in which ‘changing one’s mind based on new evidence is a good thing.'”

Haskins has averaged 0.9 points in 10 games this season, while Myrthil has averaged 5.7 points and 2.0 rebounds and is the only member of the team to play in all 26 games this season.

NCAA athletes already can be paid under the new name, image and likeness (NIL) agreement that began in 2021. Taking that a step further, Dartmouth’s basketball team was certified by the NLRB last month as employees of the school.

School administrators now have 10 days to file an appeal, in a process that could ultimately reach the Supreme Court, albeit years from now. The school was unsuccessful in forcing Tuesday’s vote to be delayed.

Northwestern football players made an attempt to unionize in 2015 but the NLRB decided to decline jurisdiction, ending the unionization bid.

Because basketball players are deemed students first, in the eyes of Dartmouth administrators, the school disagreed with the attempt to unionize.

“For Ivy League students who are varsity athletes, academics are of primary importance, and athletic pursuit is part of the educational experience,” the university said in a statement.

“Classifying these students as employees simply because they play basketball is as unprecedented as it is inaccurate. We, therefore, do not believe unionization is appropriate.”

While Dartmouth could simply shut down the men’s basketball program in the wake of the union vote, that drastic move is not likely, according to Sportico, since that would create “unfair labor practices by retaliating and refusing to bargain.”

Also left to decide would be whether the unionized players would be ruled ineligible by the NCAA and/or the Ivy League.

Dartmouth, 1-12 in Ivy League play, ends its season Tuesday night against Harvard. Only the top four teams play in the conference tournament.

–Field Level Media


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