With all due respect to the glories of the Sweet Sixteen, the center of the college sports universe for the next couple of days is a government office on the ninth floor of a landmark building downtown in Chicago.
In that office, the regional director of the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board, Peter Sung Ohr, will decide whether scholarship football players at Northwestern University qualify as employees who can form a union and bargain for benefits. Ohr told "Outside the Lines" on Tuesday that his ruling could be released as early as Wednesday or Thursday.
Ohr's decision is the next step in a process that, when coupled with litigation against the NCAA and legislation making its way through Congress, could produce radical changes in college sports. The decision could signal the beginning of the end of the NCAA's concept of the "student-athlete" and recognize the enormous commercial enterprises that football and men's basketball have become, forcing schools to share more of their bounty with players in the form of medical and perhaps financial benefits.
Here are the possibilities that Ohr is considering as he reviews testimony and documents offered in seven days of hearing in February:
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