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Court Case Could Make Or Break Title IX

Publication Date: 
April 05, 2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Anne Killion

Professor William Gould weighs in on the feasibility of collective bargaining and the role of Title IX in cases regarding the unionization of college athletes for The San Francisco Chronicle. 

This weekend, in Nashville and Arlington, Texas, two groups of college athletes will be undertaking identical assignments:

Travel far from campus. Perform in stressful, demanding situations. Commit countless hours to the assignment. Publicly represent their universities. Follow very specific, often confusing rules. Try to win games. Juggle class work if required. Risk injury.


"I don't think collective bargaining can proceed without a comprehensive review of all athletics, independent of revenues," said William Gould, a labor law expert and Stanford law professor emeritus.

Gould is on leave from the university after being appointed to lead California's Agricultural Labor Relations Board by Gov. Jerry Brown last month. Gould served as chairman of the NLRB, has a long and impressive resume in labor relations and has expertise on sports labor issues.

He believes that the recent NLRB ruling fits into existing labor law precedent and will ultimately end up in the courts. The entire process may not be resolved for several years, but in the meantime universities must figure out how to brace for the coming sea change in college athletics.


"If players in revenue-producing sports gain in revenues, it will exacerbate the inequity that already exists," Gould said. "The collective bargaining process will have to focus on the entire universe of athletes. A failure to do so may squeeze other sports out."

Many college administrators agree that Title IX will play a significant role in how these issues are sorted out. However, most are not willing to speak on the record about the controversial issue that could be the undoing of the NCAA, by addressing what Gould calls "the glaring gap" between university profits and restrictions on athletes.


"Title IX has always been the scapegoat," Gould said. "It gets blamed for everything."