NLRB Declares Speech Restrictions on College Football Players Illegal

ACADEME BLOG

BY HANK REICHMAN

In a potentially landmark victory for the free expression rights of student athletes and other student employees, the National Labor Relations Board has declared that Northwestern University must eliminate “unlawful” rules governing football players and allow them greater freedom to express themselves, ESPN reported today. The ruling found that as employees the players must be freely allowed to post on social media, discuss issues of their health and safety, and speak with the media.

The new rules apply as well to the football programs at all seventeen private universities that play in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the NCAA’s Division I, including schools such as Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor — but not public universities. The NLRB governs relations between private employers and their employees and has no power over public institutions. Its findings on Northwestern became public on Friday in response to an ESPN.com Freedom…

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