Fisking The Internet On CAPA

Submitted by Brian on March 27th, 2014 at 12:36 PM


we're going to have a picture of Kain Colter at this press conference from ALL THE ANGLES

BiSB's terrific post earlier today covers much of the ground I wanted to, except from a lawyer who actually knows what he's talking about. I did want to put my two cents in, because approximately 74% of the comments I've read in the aftermath of the NLRB's decision make me want to find the person and shake them, shouting something along the lines of "HAVE YOU EVER MADE A COHERENT ARGUMENT IN YOUR GODDAMNED LIFE?!?"

So let's address these things. These are actual MGoBlog user comments. I'd say I'm sorry if I picked yours, but I'm not.


I could definitely see Northwestern arguging that football athletes shouldn't get special treatment over all the other sports, etc and just dropping it the way Chicago did.

So… your theory is that Northwestern will drop football, get kicked out of the Big Ten, lose about 99% of their athletics revenue, and pay for its nonrevenue sports out of its own pocket because the football players have the right to collectively bargain. The people making this decision will be throwing away countless hours of free marketing, making their school less attractive to prospective students, and essentially firing themselves.

Seems likely.

Wow. Stupid. So long college sports as we know it.

"So long the Olympics as we know it." –this guy, 1992

No way is the third string back-up tackle as valuable as Jake Ryan or Devin Gardner. Why should a guy who contributes little to victory receive the same level of pay that a Gardner does?

Also, this will basically destroy the MAC  and other small schools. They don't have the budget to negotiate anything. I foresee schools dropping football or going to non-scholarship.

This is an argument that the future system might be unfair because it treats all athletes the same when some of them are worth more than others. I'm sure if we think about this very hard for a very long time I can come up with a flaw in that.

The MAC may not be able to provide the same sort of financial support that bigger schools can. This will undoubtedly crater their recruiting, which features many head-to-head wins against the Big Ten.

Won't this cripple many athletic departments and force them to drop sports? Perhaps not Michigan, but schools of lesser stature?

Maryland recently dropped several sports.

There are broad swathes of schools playing NCAA sports, and most of them are going to be completely unaffected by this decision. To be an employee you have to be involved in economic activity, and most NCAA schools are spending, not making money. The top and vast bottom are going to be fine. There is a middle tier of schools that face a choice between narrowing their focus to keep up with the Joneses and abandoning their dreams of being Louisville.

The problem is: they already face that choice. They run with a D-I minimum of sports and throw their resources at the revenue generators. This won't "cripple" them any more than their already short resources do.

Maryland dropped several sports because it was run by an idiot, a problem orthogonal to this discussion.

if this decision stands they will have just walked tens of thousands of student athletes right out of college sports.  title IX will be effectively gutted.   your daughter that wanted to row/field hockey/basketball, etc, kiss that good bye.  your son who wanted to play a sport that really doesn't generate revenue, say gymnastics, wrestling, and track,   well that's all done too.  nice job [insert expletives here].

There are 311 Division II institutions that make zero money on sports. There are 449 D III institutions. There are hundreds—thousands—of D-II and D-III field hockey, rowing, basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, and track programs. The chance that a high revenue program that has to deal with a player union is forced to drop sports is very low, and the overall number of opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics is not likely to change in any significant way.

And even if it did, I don't think there's any compelling reason to privilege generally wealthy nonrevenue athletes over the general student population and especially the relatively poor and underprivileged revenue athletes.



The athletes do not draw in the money. The name does. Michigan Football brings in the revenue. I didn't watch Denard any more closely than Sheridan. I don't watch Derrick Walton more often than Darius Morris. Have you ever said you were going to stop tuning in because a player left? Probably not, so it's not the players drawing in the money. The coaches play a big role, because they determine which players get recruited and how well the team performs (more fans watched Beilein than Amaker, for example).

Lots of players come and go every year, and the amount of revenue is not affected.

The hell you say. Traffic patterns during the last two football seasons here certainly indicate a correlation between success and engagement, and while football teams have a pile of goodwill built up all you have to do is look at ticket availability at Minnesota versus Wisconsin, or Northwestern, or Purdue, or Indiana to get an idea that the players make the name over a long period of time. If Michigan had a string of 3-9 seasons over the last 30 years, Michigan Stadium would be a decaying half-full wreck.

Meanwhile, I note you compared Derrick Walton to… uh… Darius Morris. I will expect a full report on the details of Gavin Groninger's career by Tuesday, in exacting detail.

So a 4 year full ride scholarship is not getting paid? This concept is a mockery of the system.

It may or may not be a 4 year full ride, and that full ride is not like getting an engineering degree (most of the time—I see you, Jordan Morgan). Many of the kids coming in are under-prepared to get a meaningful degree and have to spend 50 hours a week year round on their chosen sport. For many the value of their degree is approximately zero, both in terms of vocational knowledge gained and their ability to apply that to a real world job.

This is not because they did not "take advantage of their opportunity." It is because the opportunity was to play football and the rest of it was window dressing.

Also, CAPA was arguing that the scholarship is payment. The issue is that these players are compensated, making them employees, and the NCAA illegally colludes to cap compensation at a certain amount. That is not legal.

And the system is a mockery of you, man.

It's not free labor, they pay them in the form of education, meals, $1,200 month stipend, etc. Nobody is telling these kids that they can't go to college unless they play football, they can take the normal route and get student loans and be a normal student. That's what grinds my gears about the whole thing.

They are telling them that this is the deal, take it or leave it, if you want to get to the NFL. And oh by the way as you're embarking on your probably-failed quest to have an NFL career that's going to be about 3 years long even if you do make it, we are going to make millions of dollars off your single outstanding skill.

It is ludicrous that everyone in college is all about getting theirs and we bristle at the idea of the players doing the same. Any moral high ground the NCAA had—and they did try to cap assistant pay back in the day—is 20 years gone.



I wonder what cut the IRS will get from these Unionized employees

lets say 50000 a year for tuition, food, room, board, books and everything else

thats 50000 x .25 since thats 25 percent tax bracket = 12500 taxes

12500 x 4 = 50000 taxes owed

good luck kid

This was capably addressed by BiSB: the NLRB has nothing to do with the IRS and vice versa, and even if it did the way the law is currently written athletic scholarships should already be taxable. If anything, negotiating a provision that the scholarship still applies even if the player leaves the team puts the non-taxability of scholarship on more solid footing. Meanwhile, room and board money is already taxed.

What happens when needs aren't met? Strike? What happens then?

What prevents players from sitting down now? 

If the medical benefits, etc. that these players want really comes to fruition, what is that going to do to ticket prices?  The schools are going to try to come up with some sort of calculations as to what these new benefits to the players is going to cost and almost certainly try to figure out where the money is going to come from to fund the new player benefits.  Odds are it's going to be the consumer (ie - fans) that are going to be asked to help fund the new player benefits.

If ticket prices had any relationship to the cost of supporting the athletic department they would not have quadrupled in real dollars since 2000. If NCAA athletic departments were not trying to wring out every last dime they can already, Rutgers and Maryland would not be joining the Big Ten next year to the outrage of 90% of current Big Ten fans. If athletic departments could not afford to shift some of their money towards the athletes under their care, coaching salaries would not have gone up 70% since 2006.

Does this mean that Northwestern can fire all of their underperforming players and replace them with better ones now?




March 27th, 2014 at 1:47 PM ^

We're talking a TINY drop in the bucket here. If the IRS taxed all 5,000 D1 players on $60,000 per year, that would be a grand total of less than 0.001% of the revenue they collected last year.

This isn't a cash cow. This is a cash fire ant. It might be good for a tiny fraction of a calorie, but it would hurt way, way more in the long run.


March 27th, 2014 at 4:00 PM ^

But the vast majority of athletic scholarships don't fall into the category set forth by the NLRB regional dude. Towson's gymnastics team doesn't have the requisite economic tie to make them employees. We're just talking about football (and arguably only relatively big-time football)


March 27th, 2014 at 4:18 PM ^

Yes, they actually do/will.


The NLRB’s  ruling that the players are “employees” centered on numerous points - the great majority of which apply to ALL scholarship athletes - and likely laid the groundwork for the eventuality that there will be unionization of all college sports.


The basis for the decision that they were employees is based on 5 points:


1) Grant in Aid scholarship

2) Players are subject to special rules

3) Time commitment to the sport

4) Recruitment based on athletic prowess not academic prowess

5) Significant economic activity - to quote the actual decision: "The Revenues and Expenses Generated by the Employer’s Football Program"


Under those 5 points - this decision will, in the end, apply to ALL scholarship athletes. It will not remain solely tied to football.

Snow Sucks

March 27th, 2014 at 1:27 PM ^

Players get a free education and no loan debt after graduation. That's something most of us would do a lot of things for. I graduated in 2005 and am still paying my loan.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:59 PM ^

that "the players should be happy because they get a good deal." Sure. It's fine. But that's irrelevant. Think about this:

  • Average salary of NFL head coach: $3.75 million
  • Average salary of QB in NFL: $1.97 million


  • Average salary of B1G head coach: $2.63 million
  • Compensation of QB in B1G: free education and no loan debt

Does that seem reasonable to you? Because it doesn't to me.

Everyone Murders

March 27th, 2014 at 2:25 PM ^

The quarterback comparison you make is really apples-to-oranges. 

The average QB in the NFL is playing football as a full-time job for 16 games a year (plus preseason plus, perhaps, playoffs).  That NFL QB represents the crème de la crème of college football QBs, and is playing in a league that makes the competitiveness of the B1G look like child's play.  And there are likely only one or two other QBs on that NFL QBs team, as opposed to 4-5 for the B1G.  So the fact that the NFL QB is more highly compensated than the B1G QB bothers me not one bit.

On the coaching front, the closer salary seems fine.  Both NFL and B1G coaching jobs are very difficult to find and require very rare skill sets. 


March 27th, 2014 at 2:42 PM ^

I suppose you consider Joe Webb, Tyler Bray, and Tavaris Jackson to be the crème de la crème of college football QBs?
But all of that is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with competitiveness. It has to do with MONEY. In case you haven't noticed, people don't make what they deserve based on some abstract notion of how competitive their job is. Rather, they make what the market will bear. Last year Michigan's football team's revenue was $104 million. Detroit's (i.e., the Lions) in 2012 was $248 million.

Everyone Murders

March 27th, 2014 at 2:52 PM ^

If you can't acknowledge that there is a vast talent differential between the average NFL QB and the average B1G QB, I don't see us advancing the discussion.  Suffice it to say that picking out a few lackluster NFL QBs may not blow the hole in my observation that you think it does. 

As to your "in case you haven't noticed, people don't make what they deserve based on some abstract notion of how competitive their job is. Rather, they make what the market will bear " comment, I'm assuming that was meant to reply to someone else.  It certainly isn't responsive to my reply.


March 27th, 2014 at 3:08 PM ^

I acknowledge the talent difference, but my argument was that it is irrelevant. It's irrelevant because we're talking about compensation in the form of money and other benefits, and the relative difference in quality between the players is irrelevant to how much they should be compensated, because one's compensation is (normally) based on one's value to the operation that is making money.

Look, I'm a professor at a Research 1 university, but I'm not a superstar. I'm Tyler Bray, let's say (although I'd like to think that I'm better than he is at his job). My University doesn't say to me, "Well, you're a terrible researcher compared to the guys at Harvard, so we're going to pay you peanuts." Instead they pay me a fair wage, because I contribute to the life of the University with my research (negligible as it may be) and my teaching, and service to the Univesrity and my discipline. And a high school teacher, who's Nick Sheridan in this analogy, also makes a (less good) but still reasonable (maybe, depending on where this person lives) wage, because of the value that s/he provides. The argument isn't, "Well, you're an idiot compared to a University professor and you couldn't compete in that arena, so we'll pay you 5 dollars an hour."

Everyone Murders

March 27th, 2014 at 4:04 PM ^

You state that "one's compensation is (normally) based on one's value to the operation that is making money."  My experience is that the relation between value to one's employer and one's employer is not typically as neatly proportional as you suggest.  Your position also assumes that we can neatly determine what someone's "value" is.  I think that's a faulty assumption. 

And all of this assumes that student-athletes are employees entitled to collectively bargain.  A one-off regional NLRB decision doesn't settle that issue in my mind.

All of that aside, the thrust of my original reply to you was that I'm not all that appalled that an average B1G QB is not compensated like an NFL QB.  You're welcome to disagree, of course, but I don't see anything in your response that changes my conclusion.

Also, you seem to have a plastic wolverine biting your forehead.  You might want to have someone at the University Health Services look at that for you.


March 27th, 2014 at 4:13 PM ^

because one's compensation is (normally) based on one's value to the operation that is making money. 

But why should this argument only apply to football players?  Most arguments in favor of higher compensation for players - including Brian's - center around "these guys are making the school money, so they should get paid."

Brian didn't bother with the part about where most of that money goes, which is to support people who don't make a damn cent for the school but get paid a hell of a lot relative to their value.  Folks seem to want football players compensated according to their value and the non-revenue guys (and gals) not compensated according to their value.  We are to continue giving them compensation far above their value.  Why the disconnect?

I say, it should be all athletes paid "according to their value" or none at all.  And I think the detriments of having the answer be the former are very, very high.


March 27th, 2014 at 5:10 PM ^

Isn't it more like you are offering that musician a chance to play at Carnegie Hall and to a nationally televised audience and they should be happy that a label might see them and pick them up?


March 27th, 2014 at 10:52 PM ^

from Avondale Pizza Café to Carnegie Hall is a long one; the musicians might actually chuckle before rattling the nickels in their tip jar in your face.

But I chose wrongly; this was not the analogy I truly sought.

I would like instead to reference the Bachelor's in Music that Booker T. Jones earned at Indiana University while playing trombone in the IU student orchestra at the same time that he and the MGs and the other musicians at Stax churned out backing tracks to hundreds of commercial recordings in the mid- to late-60s.

For the sake of argument, let us hypothesize that this already household-name musician enjoyed the benefit of a scholarship from IU in order to pursue and complete his degree there.

Were there such a governing body as the NCAA presiding over the world of students on music scholarships as there is for "scholar-athletes":

He would have been denied "eligibility" to perform in a student ensemble at IU on account of his many paid outings in the Memphis music scene during his high-school years;

He would furthermore be ineligible on account of the many commercial recordings he had made to the date of his admission to school;

He would have been prohibited from any professional engagements during the term of his involvement in the IU orchestra. This would have denied the world, among other things, of his contributions not just playing on but producing Albert King's album Born Under a Bad Sign. (He commuted back to Memphis on weekends to keep up his work at Stax.)

The parallels fail at some point -- the IU orchestra was not a financial powerhouse producing $150 million in revenues off the efforts of its scholarship students, for one.

But I just don't see any aspect of the NCAA's artificial legal construct of the "scholar-athlete" that doesn't offend market economics as well as simple fairness.


March 27th, 2014 at 3:00 PM ^

This is an issue he has advocated about for a long time, gets emotional about, and tends to take the tack of "You either think athletes should be paid or you're an idiot." The tone of this was never going to be conciliatory and that's okay, just know what you're getting into. While I don't think players should be paid, there are issues as to how they're treated that need to be dealt with, so why not discuss how it should happen.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:32 PM ^

Many negative comments on the ruiling are mistakenly directed by how one feels about unions. I.e. "They're okaying a union and ot will ruin college football because..." No, this ruiling simply defines the players as employees and so now MANY laws regarding employees are now applicable. The students have only been told that they fall under the definition that allows them to unionize. ..if they choose. So really, if you're hacked off about the idea of a union screwing up college sports, you're hacked off at a bunch of kids that think a union is in their own best interest.

French West Indian

March 27th, 2014 at 2:13 PM ^

...and I admit that this is something that maybe I haven't been clear about in my postings.

For the record, I'm not anti-union and I do think that a union that gives the participants involved a voice in the big picture has a lot of validity.

It's the classification of the football players as employees from this ruling that is disturbing because it opens a can of worms with lots of consequences.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:56 PM ^

The NCAA's insistance on the pose of amateurism -- denying "scholar athletes" the right to profit from their talents and labors from any source while locked into the scholarship situation -- is a legal and economic anomaly that was bound to go the way of Olympic amateurism. The NCAA turned "amateurism" into a hypocritical farce, and so, in our fairly regimented and hierarchal economic system, the next place for "student-athletes" to go in our social model is "employee" status in order to acquire some semblance of economic and civil rights.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:14 PM ^

More about the possible consequences really.  If this could be limited to the issues that were originally highlighted, great,  But it won't be, because as Andy Staples said the lawyers smell money.

It's difficult to see how this doesn't amplify and with issues such as Title IX complicating the picture, it really isn't that hard to draw a line from college athlete's unionizing to school's saying "Screw it!" and dropping sports altogether, especially if they're not profitable under the current system.  Changing business models results in changed competitive landscapes, period.



March 27th, 2014 at 2:38 PM ^

I tend to agree. But the point is that many arguments are being made about this being a bad idea because of said fallout. The board can't rule on that. If a spade is a spade, you can't call it something else because it may change the game we're playing. We'll have to sort the wash later.

for the record, I generally can't stand unions because of what I've seen them do to my family in the automotive industry, but that's not the point here. we're just talking about how to define d1 football players . They now have the choice to organize at their own peril/benefit


March 27th, 2014 at 1:42 PM ^

There is no bearing of this ruling on the taxability of tuition scholarships. The IRS has already stated in Publication 525 ( that any educational institution may provide tax-free tuition reductions to any EMPLOYEE:

You can exclude a qualified tuition reduction from your income. This is the amount of a reduction in tuition:


  • For education (below graduate level) furnished by an educational institution to an employee, former employee who retired or became disabled, or his or her spouse and dependent children.

I will note that this does require graduate students to be involved in teaching or research activities. BiSB's analysis I think would still prove that the tuition is not taxable.

BUT even if you don't believe him, there are numerous ways that this could be avoided. For example, the university could contribute (tax-free) the amount of tuition and room & board to a "529 plan" for every student-athlete. Then the athlete would "pay" his tuition out of this plan that Uncle Michigan so generously contributed to.



March 27th, 2014 at 1:39 PM ^

Brian,  you summed it up beautifully.  God forbid If I get on your dark side. 

Just a little background, I am pretty anti union overall.  Not "get rid of unions altogether," just they have too much power recently.  (please don't flame me I am not trying to debate the GM and Chyrsler bankruptcy, just where I come from philosophically) However, from the get go, I think this union idea for the NCAA makes sense in so many ways.  Start with being the teams that lose at 11pm in the NCAA tournament and then have to be on a plane to go home at 1am, no fan reception no time to do anything because the NCAA does not have enough planes????? How about  a young stud who commits to AL and turns down his local D1 school, then finds out he is not so good?  AL has no downside here, just the kid who gets cut.

All this means is the players get a seat at the table, that is what unions are for, if they start ruining the sport, they will ultimately pay (see GM).  Right now the players are indentured servants with no recourse, except to quit the sport they love and/or transfer and lose a year of eligibility and be back in the same sitation again.

IT will be bumpy, but the union for players in the long run is good for sports and good for MI.  just my two cents.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:02 PM ^

to revisit this argument.

"To be an employee you have to be involved in economic activity, and most NCAA schools are spending, not making money."

Spending money is an economic activety, in fact if there were no spending there would be no economic activety.  Perhaps you meant most NCAA schools are losing, not making money, that may well be true, but losing money is still an economic activety.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:46 PM ^

I would like to point out that the person who brought up taxes doesn't understand how tax brackets work. Based on 2014 numbers and the $50k provided in the original example, here's how it breaks down:

  50,000 Income
- 6,200 Standard Deduction
- 3,950 Personal Exemption
- 4,000 Tuition Deduction
= 35,850

You will note that this puts them in the 15% tax bracket for singles. You only pay the percent for the amount in that range, not your entire income. That makes the tax they would pay $4923.75. Now, credit them $2500 for the American Opportunity Tax Credt. That drops the amount to $2423.75. This is assuming that the player is not married and has no other deductions/credits.

Over the course of 4 years, the total is $9695, around $40k less than what was originally posted.


March 27th, 2014 at 4:08 PM ^

Sorry, not a CPA. I just like to understand how things work. Anyone who doesn't understand at least what I just posted, I suggest you look at your 1040 this year. It tells you step-by-step what to do. I mean, we're talking about 5-7 lines to understand.

I would never suggest someone do them by hand, especially if you itemize, because there is just too much to know, but at least reviewing the return before you submit it would increase your knowledge on the matter substantially.


March 27th, 2014 at 3:21 PM ^

Well - that covers the federal income tax burden.


...but it leaves off a bunch of other things, like state income taxes and employee contributions to FICA/SS (and are they independent contractors?).


I suspect the numbers won't lead to a horrible tax burden, but there is definitely a burden there.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:53 PM ^

currently allows unpaid volunteers to suplant CBA workers in the work place?  Question is raised, will CBA allow the use of walk-ons on game day?  For example,  would we have ever seen Jordan Kovacs on game day (remember his first two years were as a walk on)?

If the answer is no, which I suspect would be the case, how many players will compete to be walk-ons if they know they have absolutely no chance of ever taking a game day snap?


March 27th, 2014 at 2:09 PM ^

and there are two precedents to look at.  In the manufacturing field seniority is a huge driver of promotion and job opportunities.  Even with the major professional sports CBAs, depending on the CBA, there may be seniority rights attached to a player's right to negotiate compensation, though not so much on playing time. 


March 27th, 2014 at 2:28 PM ^

In real life, those are items negotiated by the union, not something inherent in unions. I'd be surprised if a union proposed, and was successful in negotiating, a provision requiring Seniors to start over Frosh, etc. In real life, assume negotiators aren't going to do stupid things just because they can.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:17 PM ^

To borrow from BiSB, that issue is "31" and more steps away from becoming a thing, if it ever does (I doubt it).

But just off the top of my head, the following are possible issues that may require resolution in the future, none of them directly related to money:

  • Open vs closed shop (how would walk-ons be affected in a closed shop?)
  • Public vs private universities (the ruling impacts only the latter for now)
  • Title IX impact
  • Right-to-work in some states

The current request by the players union is pretty limited. However, slippery slope, Pandora's box, cat out of the bag, closing the barn door after the horse is out, and all that....


March 27th, 2014 at 1:58 PM ^

My understanding is that this decision is only applicable to private institutions. Public schools are subject to each state's own labor laws and are not affected by this or any pending ruling. Those lawsuits would have to be filed separately in every applicable state.

As for the NCAA, does it not have the ability to drop programs from it's collective grouping? If a small portion of schools unionize and then receive salaries, what's to stop the NCAA from dropping those schools? Certainly then a new organization will be born and become the "minor league" version of the NFLPA.

A third (and final) point is this: If one becomes an employee of the University with payment for services, does that individual still receive a scholarship for academics or simply a discount if they want to get a degree?

Kilgore Trout

March 27th, 2014 at 1:59 PM ^

I like the general idea, but I agree that it probably could be done in a nicer tone (though I realize Brian has no obligation to do this). A few things...

1. The level playing field. I don't really get why people cling to this. Why do we need to have a level playing field among universities? If GM or Microsoft or Apple want to put a bunch of money into a university's engineering or computer science program, they do it and there is no longer a level playing field. If Nike or Pickens or Under Armor want to put money into facilities or endorsments or whatever to give their schools an advantage, why is that wrong? 

2. Seat at the table. I still think this boils down to the basic idea that athletes should be able to negotiate the arrangement for them to play. If they want to get the best deal somewhere, they should be able to. There's no logical reason I can think of to not allow them that power.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:03 PM ^

That seat at the table doesn't even have to apply locally, it can apply to the NCAA as a whole. I don't know that they want to negotiate "X salary from Northwestern, while they only get Y salary at Illinois", but how about having some players represent player interest at meetings where the NCAA decides that cream cheese = not ok. Or that coaches can chat with recruits over facebook but not text. Players should have a voice there.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:22 PM ^

Is this really potentially going to make the recruiting playing field more uneven than it is right now? It's pretty damn uneven now and we still get those upsets. I doubt anyone went to Dayton to play basketball over OSU in the last 4 years and Dayton did just fine. Rules that benefit OSU's scholarship athletes over Daytons wouldn't have changed that.

Also relevant:


March 27th, 2014 at 2:14 PM ^

I wonder if there is another private university in the midwest (where this NLRB ruling occurred) with a cash-cow, money-generating football program that might also be affected by this ruling....

[faint sound of "Wake Up the Echos"....]


March 27th, 2014 at 2:41 PM ^

I'm saying that Notre Dame would claim exception because they are owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Church. That was the basis of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops position on implementation of the Affordable Care Act's abortion and contraception provisions in Catholic-run (or paid for) health care plans.