Go U, N…ion?

When Northwestern football news competes with Super Bowl media day and the President’s State of the Union address you know it is going to be a crazy day. My initial reaction to yesterday’s ESPN Outside the Lines Report that Northwestern football players were attempting to unionize wasn’t one of choosing sides. I was internally speculating about just how big this was going to be. As the guy who runs a Northwestern fan blog I soon realized many people would be turning to this site to get information, perspective and commentary. I spent yesterday simply trying to cobble together the information as best I could.

Today, I try to make sense of it. The initial and incorrect knee-jerk assumption many people made when the news broke from the ESPN OTL report, was that this was Northwestern players attempting to make a pay-for-play issue.  It is not. Kain Colter, the spokesperson for College Athletes Players Association was very clear about that. Colter told Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, ““A lot of people will think this is all about money; it’s not,” Colter said “We’re asking for a seat at the table to get our voice heard.”

Let’s get some of the basics and background covered before I dive in to my perspective.

  • As ESPN’s Outside the Lines first reported yesterday, “Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, filed a petition in Chicago on behalf of football players at Northwestern University, submitting the form at the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board.”
  • There are two different entities, both run by Ramogi Huma. Huma launched and runs the advocacy organization known as the National College Players Association. He is also the founder and president of CAPA.
  • CAPA’s goals, from their website include the following:
  • CAPA will ultimately allow players to collectively bargain for comprehensive reform such as:
    • Guaranteed coverage for sports-related medical expenses for current and former players.
    • Minimizing the risk of sports-related traumatic brain injury.  Reduce contact in practices like the NFL and Pop Warner have done, place independent concussion experts on the sidelines, and establish uniform return to play protocols.
    • Improving graduation rates.  Establish an educational trust fund to help former players complete their degree and reward those who graduate on time.
    • Consistent with evolving NCAA regulations or future legal mandates, increasing athletic scholarships and allowing players to receive compensation for commercial sponsorships.
    • Securing due process rights.  Players should not be punished simply because they are accused of a rule violation, and any punishments levied should be consistent across campuses

Of all of the posts and articles I read yesterday, the one that jumped out to me as the most comprehensive and fair approach was this feature by SB Nation’s Jason Kirk, “No, college football players aren’t unionizing for pay-for-play“. I highly recommend reading this before moving on in this post.

So, what is my take on this? Well, if the comments section of the previous post is any indication, it is clear that this topic is a polarizing one. The mere mention of the word “union” conjures up emotional responses from people. On one side of the spectrum you have the “you’re getting a $60K per year education for playing football and no one forced you to take it, so shut up and play.” On the other side of the spectrum you have “there are billions of dollars being made off the backs of these kids, their names and likeness are being used and players should be paid.” Well, on this issue, many are in the middle. ‘Once again, though, yesterday’s union attempt effort isn’t about pay-for-play, but that was part of the brilliance in the approach.

Personally, I think Northwestern has reserved its place on the historical timeline of amateur athletics with yesterday’s news. It’s impossible for me to be objective on this as a Northwestern alum and fan.  On one hand, I applaud Kain Colter, in particular, for being a leader of something that he strongly believes in and mobilizing a movement that has instantly forced the hands of the powers that be in collegiate athletics to step forward and have a national dialogue. On the other hand, I don’t think unionizing is the way to go about it.

This is a brilliant public relations play, though. You can debate the timing (would it have been even more effective next Tuesday AFTER the Super Bowl?), but the news coverage results would suggest it worked like a charm.  Anytime you can spark national media to use a headline that includes “for the first time in the history of…” you get people to lean forward. I’ve had to take my personal opinion of unions out of the mix to try and assess this situation. The association with the US Steelworkers Union is clearly a “we mean business” message.

I don’t pretend to be a labor law expert. Hell, I’m not even a novice. I’ve read some background information on this via Kevin Trahan at Inside Northwestern. Personally, the most intriguing angle I heard was from a business colleague with a strong finance background who went down the road of “if you take the stance that the players are claiming they are employees, then the scholarship is compensation and you open the door up for a five-figure tax for the athletes to pay. But, the bigger picture on this was that Kain Colter, the same Wildcat player who made waves with his “All Players United” marking on his wristband back in September, pulled this off rather spectacularly.

Kain’s goal was to have a voice at the table. I’d say that voice has now been given a national megaphone. I’ve just admired the way this went down as much as anything. The sex appeal of this story is undeniable. The question of amateurism in college football has been a headline-grabbing topic for several years now. The Penn State sex abuse scandal was a turning point in the conversation. Add the ongoing concussion issues that are threatening the sport and then most recently the North Carolina fake classes scandal and you had a pretty good backdrop for this story to stick. Big time. CAPA’s goals? As Jason Kirk broke down, point by point, it is hard to argue with any one of them.  Therein lies the brilliance of this approach.  There was no mention of pay-for-play. The act of unionizing is headline grabbing, the lists of goals is one that most of us would agree to (who doesn’t want players protected?) and yet, it will still bring the pay-for-play conversation to the forefront. It is important to note that CAPA went out if its way to say this has nothing to do with how NU treated the ‘Cats players:

Q:  Are the Northwestern players complaining about mistreatment by their university?
A: No. These players are unhappy with NCAA policies that affect their lives as Northwestern athletes – CAPA website FAQs

I had a post set to go yesterday morning that included the salary arms race among B1G coaches. With James Franklin now over $4million per year at Penn State, there are at least four coaches in the B1G at or above that annual salary.  What football coach is going to step up and say they disagree with the goals of the players? Athletic Directors make very good salaries and also, for the most part, genuinely care about the protection of players. What AD is going to step up and say “I disagree with these goals?”.

Jim Phillips took the logical (and in my opinion, correct) approach in his release yesterday. It included four distinct messages #1)NU teaches leadership and kudos to Kain for showing leadership, 2)please note that Kain and the players specifically noted that NU has treated them the right way at every turn and 3)he disagrees with the tactic of unionizing as the best way for the NU players to achieve their goals 4)he hears the message, voice at table granted.  Here is his actual statement:

“We love and are proud of our students. Northwestern teaches them to be leaders and independent thinkers who will make a positive impact on their communities, the nation and the world. Today’s action demonstrates that they are doing so.

Northwestern University always has been, and continues to be, committed to the health, safety and academic success of all of its students, including its student-athletes. The concerns regarding the long-term health impacts of playing intercollegiate sports, providing academic support and opportunities for student-athletes are being discussed currently at the national level, and we agree that they should have a prominent voice in those discussions.

We are pleased to note that the Northwestern students involved in this effort emphasized that they are not unhappy with the University, the football program or their treatment here, but are raising the concerns because of the importance of these issues nationally.

Northwestern believes that our student-athletes are not employees and collective bargaining is therefore not the appropriate method to address these concerns. However, we agree that the health and academic issues being raised by our student-athletes and others are important ones that deserve further consideration.” – Jim Phillips, NU VP of Athletics & Recreation, via NUSports.com January 28, 2014

Meanwhile, Pat Fitzgerald voiced his support of Kain and the Wildcats’ actions with this tweet

This is a story that won’t soon go away. Today, collegiate administrators, university presidents, attorneys and consultants across the country are asking and answering “where does this go from here?” This is going to be going on through the season and likely for several years to come. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.

I still think the underlying beauty in this approach by CAPA is the fact there is no mention of pay-for-play in their goals (one could play the semantics game as the CAPA website goals listed are under the header “Some Goals”), yet this will be one of the driving forces to remedy that topic in major college athletics.  B1G commissioner Jim Delany had actually been leading the charge on trying to get compensation for players for many of the same reasons Kirk listed in his article – cost of living stipends (note: Northwestern’s housing stipend, which is NCAA-based on cost of living is actually a very small benefit that is marketed to prospective athletes).

My final thought on this for today is the fact that Northwestern was the epicenter of this movement. I can’t help but think that is part of the equation from the story gaining national media (many of whom are NU grads) attention.  I think the only better play would’ve been Stanford, which has become a BCS Bowl regular.  I haven’t had the chance to connect with Kain yet, but when I do, I will ask him about the impact Jim Harbaugh’s snubbing of him at Stanford played a role in all of this. You might remember Kain was offered a scholarship by then Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh, but Colter, who suffered a shoulder injury in high school got strung along by the Cardinal under the auspice of getting academically admitted. As Signing Day approached, Colter couldn’t get a straight answer and decided to contact NU and then committed.

I can’t help but think of how the discourse might be different if this were, say, Florida players.  It’s not the first time a Northwestern football player has taken on the NCAA. Heisman trophy finalist, Darnell Autry, sued the NCAA – and won – the right to act in a film and receive compensation without jeopardizing his football career.   Fitz constantly preaches developing leaders for life after football. You can disagree on the tactics, but today, my thought is Kain Colter has become a pretty visible example of what the Wildcat football program develops. Ironically, it could be this leadership development that upends the sport and the team that we love.

I completely disagree with the players unionizing. But, I’m proud as heck today to call myself a Northwestern alum.  In the coming days, I’ll be using this blog to post reaction that represents multiple perspectives on the issue.  Have at it.

  • Db

    Very well said ltp. I don’t know enough about unionizing to have a view on the tactic, other than that I’m pretty sure ultimately it won’t work. I’m focused on 2 things – what they have highlighted as their goals, and the impact to notoriety for the school.

    Their goals – completely legit and arguably should be in place. How schools can jettison a player if they get hurt is beyond me. Coaches shd have to live with their choices, especially when student athletes do not have freedom to move laterally. The medical situation is awfully tricky, ask the nfl. No idea how you prove this out down the road, but there needs to be a systemic plan in place. Any injury caused or accelerated by performance while representing the school has to be covered.

    As far as impact to the school, it is all upside. The players look smart, and are leaders. The school and fitz taking measured approaches vs the NCAA nonsense response is also a winning strategy. In terms of who we chase, this has to resonate. We have a window until others jump on the bandwagon to make it work. The free publicity with the logo and highlights and air time….you could not buy it, there is no price. Obviously this has nothing to do with the actions or purpose, but this can go either way for the program, and I see it as all upside and potentially meaningful for 2015 recruiting. Who knows, this has been going on for a while, and maybe aided those last 2 big pieces to the 14 class?

    In nanny event, I’m proud of what they are doing, and standing up for it. I do hope they drop the union piece eventually, but am totally comfortable with them using it as a lever to advance and accelerate the dialogue. Proud to be an alum.

    • Max Johnson

      I agree. I really think the “union” is unlikely to go through and that they will receive a “place at the table” from out-of-court negotiations. I also think it makes NU look good. However, how anyone can take the NCAA’s side, even against the specter of a “union,” is beyond me. It is a corrupt organization making millions of the backs of, mostly, young poor black men.

      • Old Fat Bald Guy

        That depends on what kind of a “union” it is. There is an organization in New York State called the Freelancers Union that is essentially just a big pool to help self-employed people get health insurance. Unions are about a lot more than paychecks. I’m OK with the idea of big-time college football players getting paid. I’m also OK with the idea that the value of a scholarship is payment and at a school like Northwestern, it’s plenty and there shouldn’t be any more. But this is not just about Northwestern and the way it treats athletes — the players couldn’t be making that more clear — and some of the things they want shouldn’t even be up for debate. I don’t care what sport you’re on scholarship for, if you got hurt playing that sport and that’s why you can’t play it anymore, you should keep your scholarship until some reasonable deadline for graduation.

        • jeffkosnett

          We all know that some of these coaches and universities treat the players and their staffs with contempt except for a few stars and are already extremely ticked off at KaIn Colter and now at Pat Fitzgerald and JimPhillips. Well, I say, I am proud of all of them and to be a Wildcat and an alum. Db, you said it well.

        • Max Johnson

          Agreed. Nice points.

  • MinniCat

    So, for everyone who keeps saying “I agree with their goals, but I don’t think unionizing is the way to do it”, what IS the way to do it?

    Seems to me that collective bargaining is the most effective way to achieve their main goal of getting a seat at the table. If I am wrong, what is the better approach??

    • MinniCat

      Especially keeping this in mind:

      The NCAA touts its national Student-Athelte Advisory Committee as a way for athletes to “offer input on the rules, regulations and polices” that affect their lives. Thing is, the SAAC — made up of current college athletes — has no actual power. No vote when it comes to college sports policymaking…

      – and –

      In a concussion lawsuit court filing last December, the NCAA even denied a legal duty to protect college athletes from physical harm, repudiating both the traditional en loco parentis role of universities, and also the association’s founding mission.

    • LTP

      You just nailed what I believe is the key question. I think it was brilliant as a tactic to help achieve the goals, but the logistics (state schools vs private and the challenges inherent with unionizing them together are pretty complicated) make it difficult to be THE way to get it done. The threat of it is actually the part that will have the most impact. I don’t know how to answer your question. I look forward to others stepping forward with answers to that.

      • MinniCat

        If a threat is the only thing the NCAA understands, then it truly is a dictatorship as Colter suggested.

        Wouldn’t a union (assuming they could create a homogenous union of college athletes…granted it’s a big ‘if’) democratize the process by giving players a vote?

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      There are definitely definitional problems when it comes to calling this a union. It may not be the right way for the players to get what they want ultimately — as mentioned above, the tax issue might become a major problem. I have to do a little more research on the subject, this is certainly a novel approach and a very new case in NLRB jurisdiction.

      Having said that, if they want a place at the table, getting the NLRB to recognize them as a union and for Northwestern to collectively bargain with them is probably the right kind of threat to use. Whether they would actually strike and what responses NU could have toward striking players is another matter entirely (and probably one the NLRB will consider during that hearing next week).

    • Alexander Pancoe

      I responded in another post — look at all the recently initiated class-action lawsuits against the NCAA addressing the exact issues this “Union” addresses. I wonder…if those get decided first, what will be the new reasons used to justify this. But yeah these lawsuits if successful will crush the NCAA in the pocketbook and the media…sooooo I would say that would be pretty darn effective.

  • Alexander Pancoe

    I think this article is very well written and sums things up: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-01-28/sports/ct-ncaa-union-haugh-spt-0129-20140129_1_football-team-northwestern-players-national-college-players-association
    Also. They say the intent is not pay-to-play…and it probably isn’t…for now. But if they successfully unionize, it’s inevitable, staring at billions in revenue, that it WILL become a topic. I have a problem with the idea of paying players at the college level. Let me be clear — I love NU football…I was at the rosebowl as a kid, I graduated ’09 and had many friends on the team — I GET their arguments. I GET what they are trying to achieve. But this was the wrong way to do it. Unionizing is a slippery slope and, I believe, a successful union would over time turn college football into a “minor leagues”. Now the other argument — football players bring in X revenue to the university and put their bodies on the line and should get a cut makes perfect logical sense…that doesn’t make it right. Northwestern is a liberal arts school that encourages students to explore many areas of study. From the sciences to music. Northwestern is about education and enlightenment. The idea of paying students based on what they “bring in” to the University is contrary to the ideals Northwestern stands for. It’s telling everyone from the music major, to the political science major, that these other kids, are worth more to us. Now let’s be honest…we know that they are, in a dollars and sense measure…as a “gatekeeper” to the University, and for the entertainment they provide us. That does not mean Northwestern should adopt a policy that formally places the value of one group of students above the rest. What’s next? Are students who conduct research on potentially lucrative drugs going to get paid. Again two slippery slopes — unionizing WILL lead to a fight for a share of the revenue…anyone would do the same in that position. Secondly — the idea of assigning value to students…this is completely contrary to what a “liberal-arts” University stands for,

    • Richard

      “But this was the wrong way to do it. Unionizing is a slippery slope and, I believe, a successful union would over time turn college football into a “minor leagues”.”
      Here’s the thing, though: If you actually want real change in terms of insurance coverage and player safety, begging politely from the NCAA is likely not going to acheive anything. Mind you, if you follow the discussions, you’d see that the B10 is at the forefront in terms of advancing the idea of setting up scholarship funds and insurance pools for student-athletes. The problem is that all that costs money, and there are schools and conference who are not as rich as the B10 who still want the benefits of college football while being unwilling to compensate their student-athletes for the toll that colelge football took on their bodies. They’re like the coal mine owners who can only stay profitable if they don’t follow safety procedures and jeopardize the safety of their miners. Right now, they can outvote the B10 and like-minded conferences who are interested in and rich enough to take care of their student-athletes in the NCAA. This may be a first step towards the power conferences splitting off from the NCAA, and the B10 may not mind.
      For that matter, is unionization all that bad? Quite a few grad schools are unionized (some for decades now), and the quality and research from places like U of Michigan, Cal, & UCLA have not suffered.

    • a42

      “football players bring in X revenue to the university and put their
      bodies on the line and should get a cut makes perfect logical
      sense…that doesn’t make it right.”

      Why is it right for the NCAA to be operating multi-billion dollar revenue sports? The very fact that football and basketball are run in such a fashion goes against this idealistic education and enlightenment argument you and the NCAA present. If colleges were truly running these sports out of those principles, they shouldn’t be seeking to make these insane profits off the sports. Or even if they did make these profits, they should then be running a non-profit where all that revenue goes directly back to benefit those participating (NOT paying coaches and ADs ridiculous salaries). The whole point of this movement is that the NCAA’s actions are simply that of big business, and not educators as they constantly claim, so it’s time to call them out as the profit exploiters that they are.

      • Alexander Pancoe

        The coaches and ADs — I understand your point. The reality is the market sets the price there — to obtain an attractive coach or AD…a school has to open up its pocket books or get beat. It would certainly be nice to see some sort of cap on this — but that is not the NCAA that pays those individuals. Schools do. So let’s focus on the actual NCAA. Where does all this money go? Older report from 2011 but — http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/6756472/following-ncaa-money . The fact is this idea of the NCAA making a profit is a myth. The money goes back to the schools. I’m sure some schools do good things with the money…some waste it…that is NOT on the NCAA. The responsibility of how the cash is spent lies on each individual school. Yes. Money is wasted and probably excessive as is the case with every bloated agency in this country, but the reality is the administrative costs, according to that article atleast, represent 4% of the revenue that is brought in. Do I think the NCAA is well managed currently? No. But this idea of a bunch of corporate board members sitting in a back room counting dollars is just not true.

        • a42

          So free market rules are ok for everyone except the players? Again you’re using a double standard here.

          Also NCAA defines its members as “More than 1,200 schools, conferences and affiliate organizations” so your argument that somehow the NCAA and schools are separate is false.

          Again if you’re going to argue college athletics are about ideals and education there should be no profits, period. You have to be consistent in your argumentation.

          • Alexander Pancoe

            Did you even read the article I linked? Or do you just respond without even bothering? The NCAA returns 96% of its revenue to its member SCHOOLS either directly or through programs and services. The point I was trying to make is that the NCAA returns almost all its revenue to the UNIVERSITIES and that can HARDLY be considered profiteering.

            I never made a double standard. I was discussing the NCAA not profiteering. YOU brought the athletic directors and coaches up. I said that was a separate issue because the NCAA was what I was discussing and they have NOTHING to do with those salaries. I also said it’s up to those member schools to rectify that situation. I also said it SHOULD be rectified. (Note I said there should be a cap on salaries).

          • a42

            You’re arguing semantics and not the actual issue of the actions being taken. Your insistence that the NCAA is somehow separate from its defined member schools (and thus school officials) is like trying to argue the NFL is different from the 32 teams that comprise it. Heck the NFL as an entity is classified as a non-profit because the money it collectively bargains is given back to the teams. But no one says the NFL doesn’t make money because it’s understood that the reference is the collective group of teams. So again, the NCAA, schools, and school officials are one and the same, there is nothing separate here.

            Back to the original debate, your original statement was that students being the driving force of this money and wanting to share in its profits is logical and yet somehow not right. My problem with this is that you already stated that their position is logical, but you then decide it’s not “right” under the concept of higher education. So my point was that if you value education to this extent, then ALL involved must be held to that same standard of “right,” specifically the NCAA/schools/ADs/coaches who run the system.

            This is where I brought up coach/AD pay as an example of applying that same standard of “right” to the system. Your responses included: “The reality is the market sets the price,” “a school has to open up its pocket books or get beat,” and “GOOD coaches and ADs are rare, in-demand, and they believe they will be
            worth more to the school and the sports programs then the dollars spent
            on them.” These are business practices, not educational practices. This was my point of the implicit double standard. You allow theses actions as unavoidable realities of the operation without recognizing that this is all big business instead of education. Specifically the last argument is predicated upon economics. Coaches and ADs are retained for their ability to win and thus generate more revenue. If it was truly about education, coaches should never be fired based off win/loss records, but instead only off how well they’re teaching the athletes. So the education argument you use against the athletes isn’t the same standard you’re applying to the people running the system.

            As for your profit argument, again that’s semantics. These coach and AD salaries are part of the expenses that bring down the net profits of the schools. Sure these expenses can be considered “reinvesting” in the school, but again the driving reason is economic and not educational. If you’re going to hold the athletes to the education standard, you have to do that for everyone involved in all aspects.

    • Old Fat Bald Guy

      You might be right, but you’re opposing what they’re asking for now based on what you think they’ll ask for later. The slippery slope argument is generally used by people who need to change the subject to support their argument against something they don’t really have an argument against.

  • cece

    Isn’t there a vehicle at NU for athletes to talk to Athletics and discuss issues of athletes? A council of reps from each of the sports? I’d be interested to know how that functions and what kinds of issues are brought to the table.

    It’s also interesting that football and men’s basketball are the only sports under discussion. One can say that those sports bring in revenue, but those sports also have professional league into which college players can enter, and with either no, or a minimal, minor league system. The same is not true of baseball, which has an extensive minor league system. And for women, the opportunities for professional work are few, or really none….see lacrosse…while their work for their sport can be extensive, and concussion inducing. So the system in college for football players gives players a shot a a high paying job. Really high paying. Where they are actually paid and can join a union.

    How does this proposal affect women’s sports and Title IX issues? Kain Colter should have an answer for that. If there is one in print somewhere, I would love to know what the answer is. The balance of women and sports must be maintained in order for all those football players to keep playing. Cause I don’t see NU cutting too much in men’s sports to achieve a balance. And Title IX is the law, and not just for sports. It’s a Federal mandate.

    So much of what goes on with football is already professional. 85 full scholarships. Lacrosse has how many full rides? is there clothing besides uniforms given to the players? What is their training table like? When all of these items are factored in, if they want to be considered employees, the hourly wage and benefit figures might be very interesting to the masses in Chicago who are urged to come and watch the players.

    • Richard

      “Cause I don’t see NU cutting too much in men’s sports to achieve a balance.”
      Why not?

      • cece

        well, besides get serious….see wrestling lawsuits against Title IX….let me direct you to this view…..just went googling KC and Title IX and found more potential fun for lawyers…..

        BY ZAC ELLIS


        Campus Union caught up with SI.com legal analyst
        Michael McCann to break down Northwestern’s attempt at unionization.

        MM: Let’s say football
        players and men’s basketball players unionize, and they seek compensation for
        their labor. Title IX, as we know, demands gender equity in college sports. We
        could see Title IX lawsuits brought against unionization because of the impact
        it would have on women’s sports. The counterargument is that women’s athletes
        could unionize, as well, and that’s true. But the reality is male athletes
        would likely command a lot more money as a union than female athletes would. I
        think Title IX is a potential issue because the unionized male athletes are
        going to command money that would seem to tip the balance of gender equity in
        favor of men.

        • Richard

          You didn’t actually answer my question.
          Why couldn’t unprofitable men’s sports be cut?

          • cece

            it’s way more complicated than deciding to cut men’s sports. see McCann’s comment for why.
            I did answer.

          • Richard

            I read what you pasted. He didn’t answer why unprofitable men’s sports wouldn’t be cut. So would you mind answering instead of dodging the question?

          • cece

            why don’t You suggest which men’s sports should be cut or whether that can happen? I’m not advocating for cutting. an attack at Title IX…likely what this Kain led effort results in….does that.

          • Richard

            I’d say any men’s sport that isn’t at least revenue neutral or costs over $1M a year and enough women’s sports to match..

          • Alexander Pancoe

            Because universities SHOULD* not provide opportunities for students based on which are the biggest revenue generators and which aren’t. The whole point of a liberal arts college is to provide a diverse education, as well as provide diverse opportunities for non classroom experiences. So…yes they could be cut. Is that right? I don’t think so. I’m as free-market a guy as you can find. However, Northwestern, and many similiar peer institutions, are guided by principles and goals and aims that extend well beyond dollars and sense. Also…reverting to club status is kinda a joke I think we both know…imagine no NU Baseball…tennis….golf….Women’s Lacrosse…swim teams, etc. If the college system only provides for sports that bring in revenue, it’s sending a message to students that, infact, it cares more about activities that are the most popular…and bring in the most revenue. It’s also formally stating, “Football players and basketball players are more important to our schools than other athletics and students”. As I posted earlier…we kinda know that is defintely true. But a University should NEVER adopt and institutionalize that.

  • H George

    I know I’ll take heat for what I’m about to type…..BUT……I’m calling b.s. on the “this isn’t about money” part. This movement only impacts private schools. It does NOT include any state or public university, where (I believe) the issues of mistreatment in college sports are most severe. If this isn’t about money, then why is the ability to particpate in sponsorships one of the issues on the table. This is a classic case of “where’s my share?”
    If Cain is such a forthright leader, then he should have been the face for a movement for the players who are in the SEC football factories, where they pull scholarships at the drop of a hat and don’t focus on graduation. His antics yesterday do not include them.
    I’m not one of the feel-gooder’s walking around saying “oh, I’m so proud to be an NU alum and I’m so proud of our guys…..” I’m infuriated by this and am sitting back seeing where it goes. If this plays out in a way to where college sports become a unionized activity, I’m out of here and will find other places to make contributions.
    Plus, I’ve had personal experience in my business career with unions like the United Steel Workers. These corrupt organizations make their money by frightening people and dividing management and worker. Since they’ve lost the power and prestige they enjoyed in past decades, they are looking to invade any new avenues they can find to collect their dues and maintain relevancy.
    So fire away……….LTP is correct when saying this issue is polarizing.

    • Alexander Pancoe

      You know…I agree with the first part of what you said. Not necessarily though because I am calling BS on Colter. It may very well not be about money for him…but his “partner” in this — Huma, was not so adamant. He refused to say that a share of revenue wouldn’t be on the table at a later date. Look…it’s simple. If you had a union…and the ability to come to the table and force action…eventually, how could you not, personally, go after some of those billions in revenue. There is zero chance that if an effective union was formed, that there won’t someday be a drive for a share of that revenue (once the logistical nightmares of private/public etc, sort themselves out). I am very against this for all the above reasons I wrote. I think it really violates the spirit of higher education.

    • Scott

      Not gonna take heat from me. Veteran of dozens of negotiations with unions; most of them corrupt. Sorry to any idealizers who disagree. That said, the NCAA and the Universities (like most management who are experiencing this type of unrest) have created their own problem by NOT addressing these concerns with genuine intentions long ago. I also happen to have dealt with the NCAA in my career and they remind me of most of the unions with whom I have come in contact: unresponsive, arrogant, unaccountable, uninterested in representing their constituency as much as lining their own pockets.
      It is BS that there is no “pay for play” on the table, or under the table. Has anyone asked how the union expects to be PAID? And please, don’t buy any BS that there isn’t a payday for CAPA schemed into this process. What happens when the union calls the shots and the members are expected to toe THEIR line, or else?
      I am proud for anyone like Kain that takes on the Brahmins in the status quo, as I would be of any union MEMBER that doesn’t blindly accept what management dishes out, I am just sad that he believes a union will be anything but ultimately destructive.

      • royko

        I haven’t seen any indication that NFL players consider their union to be destructive.

        In fact, in any sport where all employers are governed by an organizing body, it’s hard to imagine any model for negotiation other than collective bargaining actually working.

        • H George

          While I strongly disagree with everything you said, I will also say that NFL players are PRO……key word, PRO.

          • royko

            You’re a PRO if you are paid for your work. They would be paid for their work (money is being paid for it, just not to them) if the NCAA wasn’t preventing it. So they are only non PRO by NCAA fiat.

        • Chasmo

          You couldn’t be more correct. If not for sports unions, players would still be working under the reserve clause, making far less than they are now, and getting really lousy medical care.
          Ticket prices would still be what they are today (because they are dictated not by player salaries but by fan demand) but the owners would be keeping all the additional money.

      • Chasmo

        Let me guess: all the companies you worked for to defeat unions were always ready to bargain, down to earth, did everything above board, were completely uninterested in their bottom line as much as improving the welfare of their employees. These companies just wanted to do right by their employees and share the wealth the employees’ ever-increasing productivity had produced for the company but those damn unions just wouldn’t let the company do the right thing. In fact, if it weren’t for unions, the annually increasing gap between what top management makes and what rank and file workers earn would start to recede.
        Unfortunately, the facts are that being a member of a union means you will get paid more and work under better conditions than those who don’t and history shows that the height of union representation in the country co-incided with the height of wages for workers.
        Here is the choice: You can believe that the billions of dollars that these kids generate for coaches, administrators, TV networks, and merchandizers should not be shared with them or you believe that the people who generate all that money (after all, nobody would pay 10 cents to watch Nick Saban coach intramural players) should get some of the wealth they create.

        Once upon a time, when I was at NU, football players got a full scholarship and head coaches got paid $45,000 a year. Now football players get a full scholarship and NU’s coach gets $2 million a year while other schools pay coaches gets paid $4-5 million. The compensation for players remains the same while that of management explodes.
        But I guess from your side of the table, that’s a good thing.

        • Old Fat Bald Guy

          Yeah, we’re obviously in the minority around here in understanding what unions accomplish for their members. The generalizing about unions in these discussions is staggering. Saying they’re all corrupt is as ridiculous as saying all employers are.

        • Scott

          Apparently you didn’t read my comment, which is much fairer than you want to admit. Most unions are corrupt. Too bad, Pal, it’s true. Perhaps historically relevant, as your assertion would have me believe, but today mostly wealth schemes for union “leaders” and their political puppets. Management makes it’s own mistakes, NCAA sucks and “Good for you Kain for sticking up for yourself,” was kinda the rest of the message. Your condescending and semi-personal attack, tho you have never met me that I know of, has the whiff of a union BA, so I understand your tactics … just don’t expect to convince anyone that way. Have a nice evening.

    • DarkSide

      Please excuse my ignorance when I ask why is it that ‘this movement only impacts private schools.’? Additionally, not to nitpick, but our former quarterback spells his first name, Kain.

      • H George

        Cain or Kain…..regardless, everyone knows to whom I refer.

      • mamaru

        The NLRB only has jurisdiction over employees of private employers. State school employees are covered by state collective bargaining legislation – if they have it. Not all states have statues governing the pubic sector. Scope of coverage varies widely from state to state, even among states with laws. This is a piecemeal approach. The collective bargaining relationship the NU players are seeking is with NU as their employer, not the NCAA.

        • Richard

          However, several states are more friendly to unionization efforts than the NLRB (just look to see which graduate schools have unionized first). I don’t expect NU players to be the only ones doing this.

          • mamaru

            Agree. As I understand it, many state school “student athletes” have a lot more issues than NU athletes.

        • Siren

          Not to take away from the discussion, which I’m very opinionated about, but I am very glad that I don’t live in a state that has statues governing anything, let alone the pubic sector. That sounds downright terrifying.

          • mamaru

            If a clarification is necessary, I was referring to public sector collective bargaining. If that was not clear from the context I apologize for the confusion.

    • Richard

      “This movement only impacts private schools.”
      Not true. NU went to the NLRB because they’re a private school, but state laws govern unionization at public schools, and quite a few states are more sympathetic to unions than the NLRB. Just note that all the unionized grad schools so far are at public schools.

      • H George

        You are incorrect, State employees are exempt from the action and would have to start their own union movement. That’s been consistently pointed out by various media outlets, and as someone who has managed Human Resources I also know this to be true. That’s not to say that the players from the public universities can’t “copy cat” this and start their own movement, but the only schools that can jump on this bandwagon are places like USC, Stanford, Harvard and Vanderbilt.

        • Richard

          “State employees are exempt from the action and would have to start their own union movement.”
          Um, that’s what I meant. Pretty much every school that wants to join this movement has to do so on their own initiative. Stanford doesn’t unionize automatically even if Northwestern does (and I really doubt they will; either the power conferences or the NCAA will work out a solution long before then).

    • Brian

      I agree with you; no fire coming from this direction. The USW isn’t doing this because of their altruistic nature; they are only getting involved because there’s money (and power) to be had. Money will be the issue, ultimately. I believe the NU players are sincere in the stated CAPA goals and believe in them – who doesn’t?!?! Unfortunately, I fear KC and his teammates are being used by the USW to “get in on the action.”

      • Old Fat Bald Guy

        But when some people try to get money and power, complaining about their actions is called “demonizing success.” When other people try to get money and power, defending their actions is called “socialism.”

    • LTP

      @H George – Great comment. I refrained from my personal disdain for unions and firsthand corrupt practices I’ve learned of from colleagues regarding unions b/c they didn’t involve United Steel Workers. I respect your opinion and get it. I tried to state clearly that I don’t like the union angle, but do understand the strategy of engaging one as part of the media relations tactic.
      On the flip side of the unions is the NCAA. It’s an organization that is full of hypocrisy and a lot of downside as well. Two evil empires.

      • Old Fat Bald Guy

        Navigating a capitalist system is about negotiating, and yeah, I think it’s a strategy. It’s a little like fast-food workers demanding a $15 minimum wage. The minimum wage now is too low (most places), and $15 is too high. But if you expect to get $11 you’d better not make that your opening offer. Having some sort of nebulous backing from the Steel Workers kind of gets your attention, huh?

        • H George

          I guess for each of it is perspective. Backing from the Steel Workers destroys all credibility in my book.

    • hoverlow

      You are 100% correct. Excellent post. This is all about the money. They are smart enough to go at it from a different angle. I can also tell you that this will also be a distraction for the program next season. Perhaps it his apu was a distraction for the team this year, even if in a small way it could of hurt the team and possible cost them this past year. This however will be much worse. I for one am glad to see colter leave the team. He was an over rated player on an team that got very lucky at times 2 seasons ago. Yes he worked hard but I am sorry , he was not an elite player. Good riddance.

      • H George

        I have gotten to know several past and present NU football players and won’t personally bash them on a forum like this. At the same time, I see no reason to disagree with your comments regarding Mr. Colter. ;)

  • Purple Flag on Saturday

    I believe that eventually the collateral actions that will result from yesterday’s movement will be the most impactful result of the players’ action, e.g. creating responsible policies on health care that must be addressed. The NCAA’s stance on critical issues such as this is clearly not in the best interests of the players (reference the genesis of the term “student-athlete”), so indirectly forcing the governing body to review its position on this and other issues appears to be the only way to bring on needed change.

    It is indeed a proud day to be a Wildcat.

    Go ‘Cats!

  • JimGoCats93

    The NCAA is problem here. I think the idea of collective bargaining being considered necessary for college athletics is frightening. Well that’s the point – right?
    If NU said: our student athletes are participating in a unique environment where athletics are lead by academics and the development of world class participants in society. They will not be used as tools of a football/athletic factory. Therefore we will provide lifetime heath benefits to those injured now or those whose injuries are discovered later. Additionally we will provide an additional two (maybe three) years for advanced degrees – even med or law school.
    STOP: We would be on probation with Auburn, Ohio State and Penn State! Our institution would be punished similarly to Ohio State for having rings exchanged for tattoos!
    Hate unions, but the threat of collective bargaining might get progress for these kids (who though they are fortunate to have a scholarship) likely need some legal protection.

  • Jack White

    After thinking about it overnight . . .
    (1) Of course it’s about money. Billions slosh around, and to anyone who says that’s not part of the equation I have a number of properties from Dr. Mabuse’s Catalog of Imaginary Palaces that I’d like to discuss with you. The injury and health insurance issues are real, and should be addressed, but seem to be classic wedge issues at this point. One of the key phrases to be alert to is “trust fund” for paying for injury treatment. Where there’s a trust fund, there are management fees and other goodies.
    (2) This action may fizzle since it depends on the NLRB deciding that the football players are “employees,” This isn’t nearly obvious. Once upon a time I administered a different part of Federal law on employee-employer relationships, and was amused to discover that Congress has always preferred to dodge a precise definition of “employee.” Under the Internal Revenue Code, scholarships for US citizens and Resident Aliens (just about everyone on scholarship, though you never know about the SEC) are excluded from taxation.The NRLB can rely on settled law that the scholarships are not “wages” and therefore the football players are not employees, and therefore cannot form a union, thus dodging the whole mess. Deciding to the contrary will cause a number of problems. Of course, someone might decide to go ahead to force the issue. NU and presumably the NCAA will litigate on the issue of being employees. Once in Federal Court, it’s hard to guess what happens.
    (3) I’m mostly concerned with the impact on the so-called minor sports, which seems wholly unpredictable and not at all considered by the initiators.

    • Max Johnson

      In regards to your last point, I think the basic question is “should money-making sports support non money-making sports?” My general response is “no.” I know it is a tough question, and I can see both sides, but I tend to think that it is ok for smaller sports to go away in order to get equity for those in football and basketball. If a sport can’t make it then drop down to club.

      • cece

        Title IX. you can’t ignore it. it is a Federal Law. signed by President Nixon. your approach of “go away” is illegal.

        • Max Johnson

          Well you can slash men’s sports and have enough women’s sports to balance (2?) The point is, get rid of whatever you can.

          • cece

            the point is, help athletes perform their sport in safe conditions and provide more opportunities for play for all, women and men, and people of all races.

            Jack White is correct….this proposal, and the comments of you and Richard…. ignore the impact on other players in other sports.

          • Max Johnson

            Meh, in order to get equity for certain players who bear the brunt of the damage right now, I have to be ok with getting rid of things. The text of the law is this: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…” I see no violation of this by cutting wrestling, for instance.

          • cece

            to be clear, cutting wrestling is the idea of Max Johnson. I don’t agree.

          • Richard

            “the point is, help athletes perform their sport in safe conditions and provide more opportunities for play for all, women and men, and people of all races.”
            They can be provided via intramurals and clubs and without spending money on expensive coaches and travel. Varsity sports certainly don’t provide opportunities to play for all; there are roster and scholarship limits for almost every sport.

    • Richard

      Agree with Max.
      If you look at the composition of athletes in the revenue and non-revenue sports as well as the money that each sport brings in and costs, in the top tier of the NCAA, to put it baldly, the current system has mostly poor black guys sacrificing their bodies to provide free educations for mostly middle-class or rich white girls.

      • cece

        ok, now I get it, you are a sexist, since I don’t read you writing to complain about white men in non revenue sports. or middle class or rich kids who get a scholarship to play football or basketball. I certainly hope this is not what Kain’s movement is all about and he should disavow such sentiments as you express.

        Title IX is a federal law which provides women with increased opportunities to sacrifice their bodies for the glory of their university and the love of their sport. it’s not a la de da free education ribbons in the hair party.

        but thanks for writing and showing your true colors so the rest of your comments on this board can be understood in context. you are a sexist.

        • Richard

          Well, if you’re going to play that card, I could say that you’re racist and like exploiting poor kids.
          The plain facts are that there are more men interested in watching sports than women, there are more men interested in playing sports than women, and people in general spend far more money on men’s sports than women’s sports, yet Title IX says that athletic spots should be proportionate to the general population. Yet no one says that the races of athletes should be proportional to the general population. Why not? If you support proportionality of the sexes in athletic participation, why wouldn’t you support proportionality of the races in athletic participation?

          • cece

            Richard, you are totally ridiculous. You made sexist statements. Title IX is the law of the land. it’s not some fantasy, unlike your thoughts.

          • Richard

            I made true statements. The majority of revenue sports players at the highest levels are indeed African-American. The majority of revenue sports players at the highest levels are indeed lower-middle class or below. The vast majority of players in sports that generate surplus income are indeed male. The majority of non-revenue sports players at the highest level are indeed female. The majority of non-revenue sports players at the highest level are indeed white. The majority of non-revenue sports players are indeed middle-class or above.

            I’m sorry that you have to go around calling someone who confronts you with reality as “sexist”, but that says more about you (wanting to live in some fantasy world where my statements aren’t true) than it does me.

            And indeed, Title IX is the law. Whether it should be is a pertinent question.

            And yes, I agree, “title IX is a federal law which provides women with increased opportunities to sacrifice their bodies for the glory of their university”. However, that glory is, for the most part, all that the university gets out of female (and male) non-revenue sports. As opposed to the 2 (male) revenue sports, which generate tens of millions of dollars for the university, a substantial portion of which go to pay for the costs and scholarships of players in the non-revenue sports.

          • cece

            looking forward to players paying taxes on their “earnings.” be careful what you wish for.

          • Richard

            They’re actually not asking for earnings from the universities, if you bother to read.

            Also, I’m not a player.

          • cece

            actually, they are asking to be considered employees, so their tuition etc, that would be like salary, and taxation will come.

            glad to read you state are against Title IX, and in favor of inequality. showing your true colors.

          • mamaru

            They can’t be “employees” for the purpose of collective bargaining but not employees for tax purposes, even if they are not asking for earnings. The NLRB requires that they be employees to collectively bargain working conditions, even if pay for play is not on the table. If they think that by not asking for pay they are avoiding the tax consequences of becoming employees they are sadly mistaken. Not all of their financial aid may be taxable, but it’s likely some will be if the NLRB says they are employees. I just hope the players are getting good tax advice about the consequences of this move.

          • cece

            “And indeed, Title IX is the law. Whether it should be is a pertinent question.” – Richard

            you do know that Title IX relates not just to athletics, but other aspects of the education experience? Universities, including NU, look at Title IX when fighting sexual assault.

            if you question whether Title IX should be the law, you are questioning fighting for equity in an education setting, not just athletics. kind of ironic since the union effort purports to be all about fairness.

    • Jack White

      I wasn’t limiting impact to $$; I suspect that the Law of Unintended Consequences will have a role here. I also doubt that any of the programs are self-supporting without considering TV revenue.

      To clarify something another matter, the so-called minor sports usually do not provide a full scholarship to each player. For example, Kelly Amonte Hiller is limited by NCAA rules to 12 full scholarships (call it $600,000), but she has over 30 on the roster. There are 34 young ladies on the soccer team with a limit of 14 scholarships. There are 22 softball players, and 12 scholarships. 24 on the field hockey roster, 12 scholarships. Some of the players are on partial scholarships, and the balance of the cost has to come from somewhere else. Very few of these young women get free educations.

  • Bob Parkman

    The basic message to NCAA, conferences and universities is that you make a lot of money, there are things that need to be addressed that will cost something, how can you say no?

    it all gets down to money and the players beliefs that it should be shared a little more. Rarely does this stop with one ask, but there are subsequent asks for more that likely will result in the direct payment of players.

    I think of direct unintended consequences:
    1. this quickly extends to all scholarship athletes.
    2. this forces all team members to be full scholarship
    3. It means the end of the walk-on player.
    4. Down the road, if this is recognized as an employer-employee relationship, then collusion to fix/cap compensation be a legal jackpot and players will get paid.
    5. Really big money schools will rule, form new conferences, and a new tier of conferences emerges creating a true minor league for the NFL.
    6. Schools outside of these new conferences may not have the money to maintain expensive football programs. They will degrade their status or eliminate them.
    7. Northwestern drops football.

    • Richard

      “1. this quickly extends to all scholarship athletes.”

      Likely yes, due to Title IX.

      “3. It means the end of the walk-on player.”

      No it doesn’t. You see people volunteering at non-profits all the time even though they also employ salaried employees. How would a walk-on be different?

      “5. Really big money schools will rule, form new conferences, and a new tier of conferences emerges creating a true minor league for the NFL.”

      This is already happening. Conference expansion was a first step.

      “6. Schools outside of these new conferences may not have the money to maintain expensive football programs. They will degrade their status or eliminate them.”


      “7. Northwestern drops football.”
      Not if we stay a part of the B10.

      • Bob Parkman

        One of the things Colter and company are pushing for is the standardization of multi-year scholarships. I think this reduces or eliminates the opportunity for walk-ons.

        I see OSU and Michigan perhaps stepping up to a new conference where the money is better and doesn’t have to be diluted when shared with other schools that don’t contribute as much.

        the B1G may not be part of the new super conference OSU and Michigan would join. The B1G may allow schools to be members except for their footbal programs. Things do change.

        • Richard

          “One of the things Colter and company are pushing for is the standardization of multi-year scholarships. I think this reduces or eliminates the opportunity for walk-ons.”
          You thinking something doesn’t make it true. That is a push to get the ‘Bama’s of the world to offer 4-year football scholarships (as the B10 does already). Otherwise, the Nick Sabans of the world oversign and simply cut unproductive players before they get their degrees.

          “the B1G may not be part of the new super conference OSU and Michigan would join. The B1G may allow schools to be members except for their footbal programs. Things do change.”
          Yes, things do change, but you really need to get up to speed on what drives conference expansion. For instance, did you know that the B10 has an academic arm called the CIC and that its schools care about the academic reputation of its members? If it didn’t, FSU would already be a B10 school by now. It’s also the reason why Michigan and Wisconsin voted against admitting Nebraska last time (the only 2 B10 schools to do so).

          • Bob Parkman

            Of course thinking doesn’t make it true, but sometimes you have to think about possibilities so if they occur, you are prepared.

            Yes, WI and UM voted against Nebraska, and while the Big Ten is officially controlled by the university presidents, they too have egos about high achieving athletic programs, the Conference on Institutional Cooperation, notwithstanding. Should a new football only conference emerge that pays $200k/year player salaries with the opportunities for massively increased revenues, it might change the equation and make it hard for UM and OSU to say no without facing the possible deterioration of their revenues and ability to fund the program, not to mention the other teams that generate little or no revenues. Massive losses on athletic programs could very well cause those university presidents to downgrade and cut.

          • Richard

            I have no doubt that UM would rather go the Ivy route and de-emphasize athletics if it gets to that point (so it won’t get that far).
            Also, they’re already maximizing revenues as best they can; players salaries would increase _costs_, not revenues.

          • Bob Parkman

            increased TV money and endorsement deals can pay for a lot of salaries – just ask the NFL. increasing the number of games helps. Also, not having to share with teams that can’t pull their weight in revenue contribution let’s the shared revenue rise.

          • Richard

            “increased TV money and endorsement deals can pay for a lot of salaries”

            Um, they’re already doing that, Bob. They’ve also increased games, if you’ve noticed. Increasing more games would require the consent of the union.

    • Icehockeycat

      No matter the intent of what this action means, the logical end-result is, if this is successful, classifying all student-athletes as “employees” as they are getting “paid” (scholarship) for a service (athletic). I agree this would actually result in the end of Div 1 athletics.

      1. this quickly extends to all scholarship athletes.
      – Yes, it would have to. If they say “just revenue sports”, that is different based on location (Minnesota hockey, Tennessee women’s basketball, etc.)

      2. this forces all team members to be full scholarship
      – Basically I agree. I guess a partial scholarhips would be only half-income?

      3. It means the end of the walk-on player.
      – Much harder, agreed.

      Down the road, if this is recognized as an employer-employee
      relationship, then collusion to fix/cap compensation be a legal jackpot
      and players will get paid.
      – Much more than that. Students have to pay taxes and all of the rest of the stuff.

      5. Really big money schools will rule,
      form new conferences, and a new tier of conferences emerges creating a
      true minor league for the NFL.
      – The NFL will resist like mad in being associated all with a “minor league”. No way it remains profitable and then they are on the hook for workers comp, etc. Big money schools have to decide if it really works or not as well. But this is the only way it will remain.

      6. Schools outside of these new
      conferences may not have the money to maintain expensive football
      programs. They will degrade their status or eliminate them.
      – Yep. I’d see a 32 or so “minor league” forming with some kind NFL affiliation, where these minor league teams just license the school colors and name, but in all intent and purpose, is run by the NFL. It is the only way the schools can get out of the liability that will come with this.

      7. Northwestern drops football.
      – Not just NU, but a LOT of schools drop football and maybe athletics overall.

  • CatAlum06

    I agree with LTP that the only way these guys succeed is to make their public stance adamantly NOT about money, and all about health issues. Especially if they get locked in with the ongoing concussion lawsuits against the NCAA, I think they will keep public opinion on their side. But once it turns into a money discussion, I think they will lose people, much like the public has little tolerance for the MLB, NHL, NFL etc. labor negotiations.

    • H George

      Yea, but when the USWU is involved, it’s about money, plain and simple. And that will rear its ugly head at some point in the action. And that’s when it will all go south.
      And in the “careful what you wish for” category, I wonder of Colter has discussed union dues with his mentors and sponsors.

      • brooklyncat

        I agree. Unions are terrible. Everyone knows the middle class was created when the America Fairy waved her magic wand and that’s that. No one ever tried to exploit workers ever again.

        • H George

          When unions were invented, there was no EEOC or OSHA. And people were being exploited 100 years ago. Societly has progressed, unions haven’t.

          • Richard

            And you think that OSHA would exist without unions, or that OSHA would not be gutted and people would not be exploited again if capital held as much power over labor as it did 100 years ago?
            The trend is in that direction, BTW. Union rates have plummetted and income and wealth inequality have already soared back to Gilded Age levels.

          • H George

            Richard, I don’t care if OSHA would exist without unions. I liked manual typewriters at one point in my life but I no longer have need or use for them. And why is that ? Because things changed! I’ll let my own direct/career-based dealings drive my opinion of unions. And I’m not going to debate wealth inequality with you on a college football blog.

        • Old Fat Bald Guy

          I miss the America Fairy. Will it help if we click our heels together and say “There’s no place like America”?

  • mamaru

    “The Myth of the Student Athlete” is an interesting law review article on the issue of whether student athletes are “employees” under the NLRA. You can tell from the title what the authors think. Google it for interesting reading.

  • TENman

    Typically, when one looks at compensation, it is divided into two categories: salary and benefits. A job that pays $100K/year may be a great salary, but if it does not have benefits, it may not be as lucrative a proposition as its face value would appear.

    On the other hand, a job that pays $50K/year may be a modest salary, but if it comes with great benefits (lots of vacation, health insurance, dental, vision, LTD, company car, etc.) it may actually be a better compensation package than the six figure deal.

    What strikes me as disingenuous about those who claim that this isn’t about the money is that nearly all the proposals are about increasing compensation via benefits. For now, the salary component is agreed not to be put on the table. However, these measures really increase the total compensation of the athlete package.

    Let’s look at the talking points:

    1) Guaranteed coverage for sports-related medical expenses for current and former players.

    Compensation analysis: Salary impact, none. However, this is like getting disability insurance as part of the benefit package.

    2) Minimizing the risk of sports-related traumatic brain injury.
    Reduce contact in practices like the NFL and Pop Warner have done, place
    independent concussion experts on the sidelines, and establish uniform
    return to play protocols.

    Compensation analysis: Salary impact, none. Definitely a prudent measure given the enormous risks of the game. However, there is a benefit to players hiring concussion experts for the sidelines. It’s like working for a company that has on-site nursing staff. Might not be a big mover in the decision to work there, but it is a benefit.

    3) Improving graduation rates. Establish an educational trust fund to
    help former players complete their degree and reward those who graduate
    on time.

    Compensation analysis: No salary impact, but who pays for trust fund? Certainly not the players! Therefore, this is an enormous tangible compensation benefit!

    4) Consistent with evolving NCAA regulations or future legal mandates,
    increasing athletic scholarships and allowing players to receive
    compensation for commercial sponsorships.

    Compensation analysis: Will certainly benefit players financially if this goes through.

    5) Securing due process rights. Players should not be punished simply
    because they are accused of a rule violation, and any punishments levied
    should be consistent across campuses.

    Compensation analysis: We’ll see. I do see this as being used to determine how scholarships are revoked, which is certainly the key benefit to being a student athlete. I would hate for this to turn into a teacher’s union horror story where pedophiles and child abusers and rapists are guaranteed irrevocable scholarships.

    I’m not saying that these are steps are wrong. Except for point 5, I don’t have any moral leanings one way or another. However, I do see this as a black and white case of negotiating for a higher compensation. Call that what you will.

    • Richard

      It is indeed negotiating for better compensation. Do you know why? Steve Spurrier made the point that his players don’t get compensated more now than he did as a player (yes, the cost of education has gone up, but they’re getting a free education, room, and board, just as he got a free education, room, and board), yet he makes something like ten times more now than his head coach did decades ago. The revenue flowing in to college football have absolutely exploded over the past few decades, and everyone from the coaches to the AD’s to the conference administrators to the TV execs to the building firms contracted to build and renovate stadiums and training centers have benefitted hugely from this huge increase in money. Everyone, that is, except the players.

      • TENman

        Richard –

        I’m glad you’re thinking about this quite objectively.

        CAPA is trying to throw wool over everyone’s eyes by saying it’s not about paying players, when everyone knows that it is.

        Good for you for not being fooled by that charade.

  • Alexander Pancoe

    I posted this as response to a post. But I thought it was important enough to create a separate thread within a thread, Now I agree the NCAA is poorly managed right now and really not holding up its end of the bargain protecting players, revoking scholarships, etc. But I’ve read a lot of this idea of the NCAA “profiting” off the backs of student athletes. Almost as if we have a board of directors that sits in a board room unloading suitcases of money. This article is old…from 2011 but it shows where the NCAA revenue goes. http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/6756472/following-ncaa-money
    The reality is outside of 4% of all revenue going to cover administrative costs, EVERYTING is returned to either schools directly, or directly to student aid. Now if you want to make the argument that schools are wasteful with the money…or spend the money in an unfair manner, that is fair. But to say the NCAA profits…no the Universities profit individually, and the students who need aid. Criticize how each University spends their share — but thats on them, the the NCAA — but its members. I’ve seen too many people throwing around this notion of the “NCAA” profiting without elaborating on what that really means. Yes the rules are ancient and ineffective. Yes the NCAA needs to rethink a lot of how it conducts itself. But this idea of “profiting” seems a bit unfair to say the least,

    • Alexander Pancoe

      Also….just for the sake of illustration. If NU recieves its payout from the NCAA and promptly spends it on student aid…a building or two, and a fancy xray maching for its scientsits that cost a couple million, is it profiting off the backs of its athletes? I would argue that as a non-profit, NU itself really consitutes the people who attend and work there. So technically the students profit from financial aid and support of their programs, the researchers profit from their new equipment…this all comes on the backs of student athletes right? I mean the money came from them. But guess what. That money went into Northwestern. They are not the Wildcats….they are the NORTHWESTERN wildcats. They are giving back to their school. They are enhancing its reputation (which they benefit from). But they profit too! They earn NU Degrees. They benefit from the reputation, the alumni, etc. They also earn the opportunity to showcase their skills for the NFL in the process. So….is it a fair trade? If it wasnt WHY WOULD THEY DO IT!? If you come out of highschool and do a cost benefits analysis and find that it is NOT a fair trade….why do it at all? No choice? That’s nonsense. You always have a choice. They choose it because its worth it.

      • AlanG69

        Curt Flood chose to be a baseball player, despite the Reserve Clause in MLB. Does that mean that they should never try to be free agents? Honestly, some of you people have the most barbaric ideas about freedom I’ve seen from allegedly intelligent people.

        • Richard

          I hope he’s young and hasn’t been out in the workforce.
          I find that a lot of kids want the world to fit whatever idealized vision they have in their own mind, damn the details (or the consequences on other people).

  • H George

    I posted this on Sippin on Purple and will post it here. Can anyone point to a specific example of how Kain Colter or any other NU football player has been harmed by their experiences at NU as a scholarship athlete? Don’t give me this idealistic stuff about “the NCAA” or “other schools”. Give me specifics about NU football players being harmed.
    When someone comes forward with THAT information, I’ll begin to take this seriously. Until then, this is nothing more than a money grab by Colter and the Steelworkers Union.

    • Old Fat Bald Guy

      They have said repeatedly that it’s not about how they were treated at Northwestern. You’re winning an argument that exists only in your mind, with an adversary that didn’t say what you claim he said.

      • H George

        The argument isn’t one I’m winning only in my mind. It’s the principal of it. If there are schools violating the players and the NCAA is looking the other way (and I believe they are), then by all mean someone from THOSE SCHOOLS should stand up for themselves. If an NU player has been mistreated, then I’d applaud them for standing up for themselves. But that’s not the case here.

        • Old Fat Bald Guy

          Well, I applaud them for standing up for others.

          • Richard

            That is a great reply.

  • Johnathan Wood

    One thing I find amazing is that there was not a SINGLE leak about this. Nobody knew it was coming, but a lot of people were involved in making it happen. They did an incredible job of keeping it quiet.

  • Johnathan Wood

    I asked yesterday and got no answers, but I still wonder: what impact, if any, do you think this will have on recruiting? It certainly raises Northwestern’s national profile.

    • fidel305

      sure, NU will will be a magnet for every uncoachable grievance harboring athlete with authority issues. just what you want in the locker room

  • cece

    Tick Tock Kain….tell us what your proposal will do to Title IX and gender equity in sports opportunities.

    • binky

      Hey cece you and i have been opposite sides (sort of) about wrestling and Title IX . Nice to see you chime in , my wife and I have worried about non revenue sports about this. Football seems to want to throw the rest of sports under the bus. But as I point out I’m a Div II guy with a whole different idea about college sports

      • cece

        well binky, I think that Richard and Max on this thread may be sadly emblematic of the Kain proposal folks….all that counts is football and men’s basketball and the rest can go away if that’s what it takes to keep those sports going. their arguments are convoluted and the writing is increasingly racial in tone. and, if it is true that the thing is all about payment cause of injuries, and 5 years of education, then I don’t see that men’s basketball fits anywhere in more than women’s hoops or wrestling, or for that matter lacrosse….land of messed up knees and concussions. The folks behind this effort have a warped sense of how sports work in colleges, the beauty of inclusion, and that their precious programs get lots and lots of other money that they would not get if they just existed on their own.

        if it’s them vs. us, we’re all together. they want to cut wrestling, not me!!!!

    • binky

      Supposed to be Div III fyi ” what scholarship ?”

  • Richard
  • Richard

    A reason given given for why the NCAA should embrace a union:


    Now, I don’t believe that the NCAA is going to run afoul of anti-trust laws soon, but that’s mostly because they have a lot of powerful politicians in it’s pocket, not because all their rules and regulations aren’t anti-competitive, because if the NCAA was a regular business (and considering the billions of dollars that the 2 revenue sports generate, it’s hard not to consider it a business), it would be busted up by anti-trust laws for sure.

  • fidel305

    this is an Incredibly pointless and futile move.

    there is long established precedent which is carefully guarded by the free market capitalists in academe [rolf] holding that grad students who receive tuition and even further stipends for being TAs or grad assistants are NOT employees for purposes of the labor laws. so good luck with that.

    And, even if this had a prayer, which it doesn’t, it would place private schools likea nu at a competitive disadvantage to the public university football factories which are exempt from fed labor laws.

    NU will give lip service to this but will hide behind the NCAA which will kill it. This is not in the university’s interest because of the potential impact it has on non-athletes. these profs and admins may be willing to saddle athletics with this but the last thing they want is a student’s union.

  • fidel305

    Fitz has lost control of the team. what next, collective bargaining over playing time? cuts based on seniority? union say in qualifications of recruits? practice times? drills? curfews?