Looks like a college players union is here

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on March 26th, 2014 at 2:47 PM

All over twitter. CAPA apparently won their court case over northwestern at the NLRB.

I don't even know what to say. I fear for the future landscape of college athletics.


I Like Burgers

March 26th, 2014 at 3:04 PM ^

Yeah, its "stupid" that the athletes will finally be able to band together and have a tiny bit of leverage against the NCAA.  Hopefully the athletes can use this to get a better education or a slice of the billions upon billions the NCAA brings in.  Change needed to happen and was/is inevitable.


March 26th, 2014 at 3:18 PM ^

All atheltes or the 20-30 that actually generate the revenue for the school?

I agree that those that make the $ should get paid, but what will happen to all the athletes (great majority) that do not generate revenue and so far have been subsidized by the few (for top D1 schools this means the football team stars and to some extent other starters) that do? Do we end scholarships for non-revenue generating athletes? Do we give Denard $1M cause he generated so much for the school and make kickers pay their way? Not taking a stance here, just a big reason why I have swayed back and forth on this topic.

Or do we charge non-athete students more to subsidize those scholarships (hope no)?  The money has to come from somewhere, and we still will need to maintain and improve facilities and hire top coaches if we want to continue to attract the top athletes for the football team which generates the revenue. If the union decides to go on strike can the school kick out all the players and bring on an entire new recruiting class in their place?


March 26th, 2014 at 3:35 PM ^

student-athelete unionization : NCAA :: Democracy : Nation


You're taking the "if you don't like it here move to a different country" line when you say nobody is making them play football.


Thankfully the world doesn't always require the approval of people in power for change to happen. I'm sorry you've decided that only people in suits deserve a seat at the table.


March 26th, 2014 at 3:41 PM ^

I'd love to hear your grounds for how these kids are getting a raw deal.

Without football they could go to college the old fashioned way or just jump into a trade and make normal amounts of money like 99% of the population. Instead, they get 100's of thousands of dollars worth of education, medical care, and swag, not to mention a prominent seat in the good ol boy network after college in terms of landing a great job. What table do these kids need a seat at? 

I Like Burgers

March 26th, 2014 at 4:00 PM ^

Up until now, there hasn't been a need for a table.  Guess someone will have to go get one...

And no one is really arguing that they are getting a raw deal.  They are getting a disproportionate deal.  What's wrong with them wanting more?  Money in college sports has skyrocketed.  So its crazy that they want a little bit more?

And give me a break on the "landing a job at the good ol boy network."  Thousands of athletes graduate or leave every year.  There's only a couple dozen analyst jobs and only a couple new ones open a year.


March 26th, 2014 at 4:15 PM ^

It doesn't bother me that they want to fight for a little more money given the huge revenues involved.  What does bother me is the way so many people talk about it like they're getting absolutely nothing, ignoring the potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars they get in tuition and room and board, and the millions more that they get in total future earning potential relative to the lifetime earnings they would get without a college education. 


March 26th, 2014 at 6:00 PM ^

they get dumped a year or two in when their grey-shirting, medical-wavering SEC coach finds a higher-rated recruit, finds them in violation of "team rules," and pulls the plug on their supposed sweet deal before it even really gets started.

All the ususal buzz indicates to me that college-level sports is a de-facto full time job, and that with the exception of the uphill struggle of an occasional Jordon Morgan (remember Hand advised not to pursue his chosen major at UM because it is inconsistent with the time required for football), most of them only get time to "play" school anyway.

I'm interested to see if anyone who has actually competed under full scholarship thinks athletes are actually raking in the millions.


March 26th, 2014 at 4:03 PM ^

It doesn't matter to me whether their situation is described as a raw deal or not.  If you're involved in an activity and you want to organize yourselves and designate someone to represent your interests I think that's a good thing. There are plenty of non-financial decisions, such as health and safety, that professional players' unions have a voice in that college atheletes do not.


It seems you only believe in organization if you can demonstrate you're suffering financially. I just find systems where everyone involved has a say to be more equitable. It's from that perspective that I can't understand why people are against the idea of student-athelete representation.


March 26th, 2014 at 5:11 PM ^

Right now athletes can't even get the ncaa to cover the cost of living increases in scholarships because indina state thinks that is what would put them at a competitive disadvantage.  Being able to unionize doesn't mean getting paid and just like nobody is forcing any kids to play football nobody is forcing the school to charge money for tickets, sell the tv rights, etc. As long as schools see sports like football as sources of revenue the athletes should have the ability to make sure they aren't getting screwed and if that means enough money to go to the movies a couple times a month that seems fair to me.  If it leads to players getting paid we will see what happens, there would be title 9 issues most likely but we can cross that bridge when it comes, that isn't this.

MI Expat NY

March 26th, 2014 at 5:40 PM ^

That's the same deal players have been getting for decades while Coaches, Conference Officials, TV Networks, Athletic Department Administrators, etc. have seen their compensation increase at astronomical rates.  It's clear that as the money has increased, the majority of the people generating that money haven't seen their compensation increase.  In the abstract, what players receive is a good deal.  In reality, I find it hard to believe anyone can think they shouldn't be getting a better deal.  


March 26th, 2014 at 10:03 PM ^

I find it humorous you think the players are being compensated disproportionately to the revenue coming in while everyone else is smoking cigars made out of $100 dollar bills. Have you seen the difference in college weight rooms today compared to 20 years ago? Pretty nice digs the kids get to hang out in now vs. then. All those people who keep the field in great shape and the bathrooms cleaned around the stadium, I bet their salaries have gone up over the past twenty years at a high rate than simple cost of living increases. The facilities the rowing team, the softball team, the gymnastics team, the two new lacrosse teams all get, that doesn't happen for free. Regarding the big salary for the AD? Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a full time fundraiser? It's not easy, even at a school like Michigan.
It's pretty easy to say everyone is getting rich except the players, but many people have worked hard to bring that money in and a lot of other people benefit from it every day. If you want to give all that money to the football players and say good luck to everyone else, well, that's one way to look at it.
I think it's great the players may get a say in how their health can be protected better. I think it's great the players may get a say in how the coaches should be able to contact them while being recruited as high school players. But to think this is a great opportunity for these poor athletes who have been so unfairly used and abused to finally get a piece of the pie, is very myopic.

I Like Burgers

March 26th, 2014 at 3:39 PM ^

That's what they have to figure out.  And just because it might be hard and complicated doesn't mean they shouldn't do it or at least look into it.  I think a system where the athletes get a slice of jersey sales or whatever would be a fair way to reward the stars.  Personally, I would feel a lot better if I bought a Derrick Green jersey if I knew Derrick was getting like 2% of the profits from that.  It would be a whole new way to support the athletes.

And there is already disparity between the sports. Tennis doesn't have the same facilities and resources the football team does.  So giving your football or basketball players a larger slice of the pie wouldn't change much there at all.

All a union does is raise the possibility the NCAA may have to negotiate with the athletes.  Prior to that, there was zero chance of that ever happening.


March 26th, 2014 at 4:19 PM ^

What do you do in all but the roughly two dozen colleges that lose money on their sports progrms.  I simply cannot imagine how things like long term health benefits aren't going to be very costly.  That leaves schools various options, none of them good, such as cutting sports programs in revenue-losing sports (most of them as we all know) and, in the large majority of instances, raising student fees for kids alreayd strapped and staring at huge debt.



March 26th, 2014 at 6:08 PM ^

to separate the money making sports from the subsidized sports.

For example, cross-country is an amatuer sport that is driven by the love of the sport.  Football is driven by tens of millions of dollars in revenue.  (There's no going back...water finds it's own level.) 

The commitment/expectations of a cross country student-athlete should be different from the absolute devotion that is defacto demanded from a major power football or basketball or hockey player.  And I don't see anything wrong with the football/basketball/hockey player getting his/her piece of the up to tens of millions in revenue like the football coaches do to the tune of ~$5 million/year.


March 26th, 2014 at 3:17 PM ^

This meme about the athletes working for free while Simon Legree and the billionaires at the NCAA twirl their mustaches and order hookers and laugh uproariously is frankly, not only mistaken and lazy IMO but just plain intellectually silly. The benefits to college athletes, most of which for other workers the IRS would recognize as wages and income, include:

1. At schools like Michigan, 50k a year or more in savings from the tuition and room and board they are not, nor ever, paying for. That is income.

2. Free health care

3. Their own food, free

4. Free transportation.

5. Graduating from school debt free for life

6. Unique facilities created just for them

7. Often, unique sleeping quarters just for them

8. In large sports often being treated far better on campus than regular students.

And there is more but that's enough for a post. I think all athletes should get a stipend of some kind and for stars, reimbursement after they graduate for jerseys with their name and number on it that are sold. But one thing is a fact: they are ALREADY paid, with ample benefits not available to the regular student, which is given to them in a free exchange for their labor. In other words, they enter a volunatary contract from which they receive benefits in exchange for their work. One might argue they "deserve" more, but you can't legitimately argue that they are taken advantage of.



March 26th, 2014 at 3:41 PM ^

Free health care?

The only 18-21 year olds who have health problems are high end athletes in sports related injuries. So I wouldn't use that as some massive benefit

While I agree they are not slave workers, and do receive compensation in the form of education, they are in no way compensated anywhere close to their value

It's not free labor, but it's cheap labor


March 26th, 2014 at 3:51 PM ^

That is a flaw in your argument. No way is the thid 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 basicalyl 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.

I Like Burgers

March 26th, 2014 at 4:04 PM ^

There's already a quickly growing divide between the power conferences and the MAC level conferences.  Regardless of whether we start paying athletes, that chasm isn't going away.  So they are already living on borrowed time.  But they won't drop football or anything like that.  D-II and D-III schools do just fine.  They'll just have to stop trying to complete on a Big Ten/SEC playing field and live within their means so to speak.


March 26th, 2014 at 7:29 PM ^

There are 12 teams in the MAC. All of whom have 85 football scholarships to hand out because they are D-1. If the MAC goes to D-2 that is cut to 36. That's 588 kids who no longer have scholarships in just the MAC. The lesser schools/conferences going D-2 is bad for the players as a whole. This doesn't even consider other non-revenue spots which risk getting cut.


For each money maker there are 50 nobodys who might not be in college without their sport. Johnny Manziel isn't playing for his $100k scholarship he is playing for 50 of them.

I Like Burgers

March 26th, 2014 at 10:14 PM ^

There's been talk for a while now of the top 60-70 teams or so from the power conferences breaking away and creating their own "Super D-I" or something like that.  Since they already have an unfair advantage in terms of resources, infrastructure, cash flow, etc it makes sense.  Why should your Michigan and Ohio States of the CFB world base their decisions off of what is in Toledo's best interest.

So with that in mind, you'd basically have a semi-pro level D-I division, and then your "normal" D-I division.  Since all of these sub-power D-I schools did just fine before the college sports boom, they should be able to continue to exist and give out 85 scholarships or close to it.

Basically, your MAC schools get stuck financially in like 2000, while the power conferences continue to expand and grow.


March 26th, 2014 at 10:47 PM ^

I wonder what the new B1G will look like when Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Maryland, and Rutgers decide they can no longer compete with the other schools and continue to lose money like they are now. Seems like that super conference idea is going to keep thinning out until it's down to the only 12 teams who currently make money. Of course, in an effort to compete, those 12 will continue to keep spending until only one is left. Yay, the ultimate college competition!


March 26th, 2014 at 6:14 PM ^

who risks a career-ending knee injury or a potentially fatal spinal injury in the course of representing their alma mater on the field is deserving, in my opinion, of being spared personal responsibility for paying the medical bills hoisted on them by the unforseeable consequences of their participitation, even if they aren't key players in bringing in the $150 million a well established program collects from theirs and other's efforts.

If standout success means that people with deep pockets would pay generously to see advertising with Devin Gardener's face associated with their goods or services, I think that is fine too.

The current NCAA definition of "amateurism" is as flatulent, outdated and arbitrary as was that of the Olympics ca. 1970.


March 27th, 2014 at 6:45 AM ^

The problem with the arguments you've been making is that you've been talking (not incorrectly) about all college athletes, and the union that's to be formed purports to represent only football players.  Surely wrestlers and other athletes risk the same sorts of injuries, but as of now, they're not being offered a seat at the table. 


March 26th, 2014 at 6:18 PM ^

repetitive sub-concussive contact, wear and tear, trauma to the knees, and other potential fatal and crippling mishaps are a MASSIVE health risk.

By your reasoning, not playing football at all is a MASSIVE benefit.

It puts me in the mind of advertisements that say, "You can't afford to pass up these SAVINGS."


March 26th, 2014 at 3:42 PM ^

People also forget that players are playing for the betterment of their school.  There is a direct corrolation between success on the field and acedemic betterment.

Johnny Manziel winning the heisman skyrocketed the applications at A&M.  Players of yesterday treated the opportunity for a scholarship as a privledged opportunity, not a pay day.  I would have killed to have been born 6'4", 220 and the skills to play at the college level on a scholarship.  Most recent graduated end their college career with <100k in student debt.  

Talk about getting a step up in life.  Players are most definitely already paid for what they are doing on the field.  


I Like Burgers

March 26th, 2014 at 4:12 PM ^

If you boss came to you and said "Hey ChuckWood, profits are up 40% the past 5 years, but for the fifth year in a row, we just can't give you a raise.  But fear not, more people are buying our product so its for the betterment of the business."  I really doubt you'd be cool with that logic.


March 26th, 2014 at 4:30 PM ^

It depends. If you're very good, you can go find a better job, which college athletes can do (see Burke, Hardaway, etc). If you're not, then you probably get what you deserve, regardless of your company's ability to become more profitable. Just because your whole company is doing better, that doesn't mean you are doing more or deserve more money.


March 26th, 2014 at 6:23 PM ^

you'd have to sit out a year at your new job before you are allowed to participate, unless the boss that hired you at your old job left before you joined. If someone at the new job still wants you after having to carry you for a year, you must be DAMN good.