According to a report out of Chicago, a group of players from Northwestern University have been granted the right to form a college athletic union. Here is an excerpt from the NY Times.
A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday that a group of Northwestern football players were employees of the university and have the right to form a union and bargain collectively.
For decades, the major college sports have functioned on the bedrock principle of the student-athlete, with players receiving scholarships to pay for their education in exchange for their hours of practicing and competing for their university. But Peter Ohr, the regional N.L.R.B. director, tore down that familiar construct in a 24-page decision.
He ruled that Northwestern’s scholarship football players should be eligible to form a union based on a number of factors, including the time they devote to football (as many as 50 hours some weeks), the control exerted by coaches and their scholarships, which Mr. Ohr deemed a contract for compensation.
This could be the worst thing to happen for college athletics. While many can understand athletes wanting to get paid because college football makes more money than any sport but this will open up the flood gates. There are sports at each university that won’t bring in the same amount of revenue as football. At the same time some schools don’t even have a football program. The biggest issue would be breaking down how much each player would demand and would the amount be the same for every sport?
The most likely scenario would involve some programs being phased out. At Texas Tech they have seven men sports and eight women sports. Outside of their football program, it wouldn’t seem that their other programs would bring in the kind of revenue as the football team. Not to mention not all football programs bring in the same amount of revenue. Would the NCAA or the conference do revenue sharing like other sports or will the funds come straight from the schools?
Also this could be huge recruiting tool. If it was decided that schools would be in charge of the amount they can offer a player then the big money schools would have the edge. According to Forbes the Texas Longhorns team value in 2013 of $139 million and a profit of $82 million. Here are the Top Five from Forbes.
|University of Texas||$139 million||$82 million|
|Notre Dame University||$117 million||$46 million|
|University of Alabama||$110 million||$47 million|
|Louisiana State University||$105 million||$48 million|
|University of Michigan||$104 million||$58 million|
There is so much the remains to be discussed with this issue. Who is eligible to be paid? Would it just pertain to scholarship athletes? What about the walk-ons? Would academic scholarship students be eligible to be paid as they bring something to the university as well? The next step is for this case to move on to Washington, DC as well as a likely appearance on the Supreme Court. Most likely this is a three year project but this fight for athletes to get paid is a long way from over.