Baylor President Ken Starr voiced strong opposition Thursday to a regional National Labor Relations Board ruling that scholarship football players at Northwestern are technically school employees and thus entitled to collective bargaining rights.
Starr, a former federal judge and prosecutor, said it would be disruptive if college athletes were allowed to unionize.
Starr, who as an independent prosecutor led a five-year investigation of President Bill Clinton in the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals in the 1990s, testified about the NLRB ruling at a hearing by the House Education and Workforce Committee.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said allowing college athletes to unionize would set a “dangerous precedent for colleges and universities nationwide.”
He said there were problems in college athletics that need to be addressed, including making sure that athletes have good medical coverage, but that allowing them to unionize was the wrong way to go.
The panel’s top Democrat, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., voiced support for Northwestern athletes, calling it “a rational decision by these young people. There was no other outlet.”
The congressional hearing came in response to the landmark ruling by the Chicago-region director of the NLRB on the status of Northwestern college athletes. Northwestern, located in Evanston, Ill., has appealed the ruling.