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Redefining the Game: How One Attorney’s Fight Could Revolutionize College Athletes’ Rights



John “Jake” Krupski, a seasoned labor attorney from New Hampshire, was well-versed in representing the rights of various workers, including unions, police officers, firefighters, and ordinary Americans. However, his latest endeavor has thrust him into the spotlight, leading a groundbreaking case poised to reshape the landscape of Division I college athletics nationwide.

At the forefront of this legal battle stands Krupski, representing a group of 15 men’s basketball players from Dartmouth College. These players, under the banner of the Service Employees International Union, Local 560, made history on March 5 by becoming the first unionized college athletes in the country.

Despite facing formidable opposition from Dartmouth College, boasting an $8 billion endowment and support from the NCAA and other influential entities, Krupski has emerged victorious thus far. His adept legal maneuvering persuaded the National Labor Relations Board regional director, Laura Sacks, to recognize the players as employees under the National Labor Relations Act, granting them the right to unionize.

In an exclusive interview with at his Concord, N.H. law office, Krupski delved into the origins of the case. The seeds were sown when Chris Peck, president of SEIU Local 560, approached Krupski last summer, seeking assistance in forming a union for the players. Observing a growing trend among college students advocating for collective bargaining rights, Krupski saw an opportunity to empower young workers to assert their demands for fair treatment and improved working conditions.

For Krupski, the core issue lies in recognizing the employment relationship between college athletes and their institutions. He contends that while the NCAA and colleges have long perpetuated the myth of “amateurism” and “student-athlete” status, the reality resembles that of any other labor arrangement. By challenging this narrative, Krupski aims to secure fundamental rights for athletes, including fair compensation, insurance coverage, and workplace protections.

Drawing parallels between representing college athletes and traditional workers like police officers and firefighters, Krupski emphasizes their shared desire for a voice in their employment conditions. Whether it’s ensuring adequate equipment for safety or negotiating fair wages, the underlying principles remain consistent across diverse occupations.

Beyond monetary compensation, Krupski highlights the broader goals of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), which extend to crucial aspects such as workers’ compensation, health insurance, and visa compliance for international players. By formalizing rules and standards through CBAs, both players and institutions stand to benefit from a structured and transparent working relationship.

Despite the legal complexities and potential political shifts, Krupski remains resolute in his pursuit of justice for college athletes. He envisions a future where unionization not only safeguards athletes’ rights but also fosters a collaborative environment that preserves the integrity of college sports amidst mounting legal challenges.

As the legal saga unfolds, Krupski’s steadfast commitment to his clients’ cause highlights the transformative potential of this landmark case. Whether in the courtroom or the court of public opinion, his efforts signify a pivotal moment in the ongoing struggle for equity and fairness in collegiate athletics.



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