The NCAA agreed to pay the players

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“One of the hallmarks of the job is that you get compensated for your services,” said Matthew Mitten, a law professor at Marquette University and executive director of the National Sports Law Institute.

But the deal, by itself, is unlikely to bring about a radical push toward unionization in college athletics. Dartmouth is a small private school in New Hampshire, which has pro-union laws. Many football powerhouses, such as the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia, are located in right-to-work states, where unionization efforts face stiff legal and political hurdles.

And compensation without unionization may be the preferred path for some athletes at the most revenue-generating schools.

“I think it’s pretty unlikely that athletes from Power Four schools would want to unionize,” Mitten said, referring to the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences.

But the NCAA is facing sea change, even if its athletes aren’t defined as employees.

“The fact that schools will likely be forced to pay these players means that the existing business model has to change,” Hoffer said.

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