As the Aztecs prepare for an NCAA showdown Thursday night against Arizona in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, a federal office in Chicago is poised to release a ruling that could affect the lives of thousands of college athletes.

Peter Sung Ohr, regional director of the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board, is expected to decide in the next two days whether Northwestern University football players qualify as employees who can form a union and bargain for benefits.

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That ruling could lead to such bargaining in San Diego — and across the country.

As ESPN reported:

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.

Public opinion is evenly split on the issue. As ABC News reported, releasing a poll on the issue: “The public divides by 47-47 percent on whether student athletes should be able to create a union, like those in professional sports. But Americans by 2-1 oppose what might seem like a logical extension, allowing college players to receive salaries.”

Complete poll results are here.

But what say you? Should Aztecs playing in “revenue sports” like football and basketball be able to ask for a cut of college income — and ask for a raise?

This is the latest in a series of weekday polls in Times of San Diego. For earlier posts, visit Opinion. To suggest poll topics, write contributing editor Ken Stone.