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NCAA responds to push toward unionizing college football


With today’s announcement that football players at Northwestern have taken the first step toward what it hopes to be a union protecting the interests of the athletes in that sport, there will likely be months, even years of public back and forth between that side and the universities that comprise the NCAA.

Shortly after the College Athletes Players Association, the entity that would serve as the player’s union should it be certified through the National Labor Relations Board, concluded a press conference detailing its goals and initiatives, the NCAA released a statement addressing what could ultimately become a monumental development in the sport and forever change the face of collegiate athletics.

Below is The Association’s standard-issue, laughable response, which is attributed to NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy:

This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize.
Many student athletes are provided scholarships and many other benefits for their participation. There is no employment relationship between the NCAA, its affiliated institutions or student-athletes.
Student-athletes are not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act. We are confident the National Labor Relations Board will find in our favor, as there is no right to organize student-athletes.

When it comes more to undermining the purpose of an academic institution, we’ll allow you to determine who’s done more damage: the players who are attempting to form a union or the universities that with one hand collect billions of dollars off the backs of college football players while simultaneously using the other to push its sham “student-athlete” agenda.

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35 Responses to “NCAA responds to push toward unionizing college football”
  1. bigjdve says: Jan 28, 2014 2:19 PM

    I think that the undermining comes from the students trying to unionize.

    The big sports Football or Basketball generate alot of revenue you are correct. However, that being stated – those monies go to keeping their players with state of the art facilities, doctors, equipment, as well as doing the same for the lesser know sports.

    Let’s not forget that those big contracts for the big schools also help fund smaller schools. For example, do you think the Appalachian State football team likes getting shelled by the bigger schools? No, but that 3 or 4 million it gets for the game allows them to support how many other sports – with scholarships, equipment, and facilities as well.

    If you take away the amateur status, the colleges are going to end up letting the athlete’s fend for themselves as they are now employees and not students.

  2. DonKellyBaby says: Jan 28, 2014 2:19 PM

    How about this:

    Let them unionize, make them employees, pay them minimum wage, and make them pay for college themselves like most Americans have to.

  3. kcoral says: Jan 28, 2014 2:32 PM

    Amazing how much jealousy there is amongst the supposed fans. I also like how a capitalistic society goes all communist when it comes to paying athletes! “Everyone must share,” they cry! How laughble. Race plays a large factor here too, of course, but everyone will deny that. Anyway, good for the (super smart) Northwestern players. Fight for your rights!

  4. sportsguy3434 says: Jan 28, 2014 2:36 PM

    Bigjdv is right. Only 20 or so programs actually turn a profit. Unions are a horrible idea. They can only ask for rights. Universities can say no. The players deserve to be taken care of but they have no idea where this goes. It will ruin college athletics. They will end up with fewer sports and fewer benefits in the long run.

  5. ancientcougar says: Jan 28, 2014 2:53 PM

    Good luck with that. Raising the possible amount of $ given to student athletes makes more sense.

  6. floridacock says: Jan 28, 2014 3:03 PM

    If they don’t want a free Northwestern education, let them go out and work. Very few Northwestern players make it to the NFL., but all have an enormous opportunity with that education.

  7. donovandancy says: Jan 28, 2014 3:16 PM

    Ruh Roh, sounds like mr writer has an agenda against the ncaa.

  8. 6thsense10 says: Jan 28, 2014 3:28 PM

    If any college has a million dollars to pay a coach they have more than enough to pay the players. Or at the very least for players to make money and sign endorsement deals off of their name. There is something unseemly when the NCAA says it’s ok for them and college coaches to sign multimillion dollars off the backs of college kids and not the kids themselves. For those that seem to think it’s all about the program and not the players please tell me why SMU hasn’t done squat since the death penalty killed its ability to attract top end recruits. Why is signing day so huge? Why are all these grown men hanging on the decision of an 18 year old? Get out of here. A college’s life blood is its recruits, the players. How about let this great capitalistic free market system we live in decide the value of a college player then? Excuse me… I forgot. When it comes to college sports everyone is a Communist.

  9. stairwayto7 says: Jan 28, 2014 3:55 PM

    Get ready to pay your union dues also!

  10. thraiderskin says: Jan 28, 2014 4:01 PM

    Student athletes shouldn’t be paid, because they are not employees… should some of the rules change or be looked at? Yes. There is way more to this than the pro-pay people are thinking. Its easy to say pay them… hell that doesn’t take much thought at all.

  11. louhudson23 says: Jan 28, 2014 4:04 PM

    It’s going to change. They cannot continue to sell a players image and their merchandise. The education is in return for playing and preparing for football. Everything besides performing on the field is going to be wide open in the courts system. While this blustery NCAA response may satisfy a certain group of fans,the NCAA had better hope better minds than this are on the case and get something worked out.Not so much with respect to a Union,which is mostly a shot across the bow…but the business model they operate under is clearly unsustainable. If the exchange for an education is their poker chip,they are going to need to double down and offer it over a very extended period of time ,as well as medically cover the players for sports related injuries,regardless of time frame. Their is no getting around the fact that the NCAA itself is hugely profitable,bit in TV contracts and merchandising. As it comes apart and breaks down,you will start to see the big schools align with players and market and license themselves and use that revenue to give extended scholarships etc….The NCAA is going to be very surprised how quickly it all goes away….

  12. musketmaniac says: Jan 28, 2014 4:07 PM

    should today’s athletes help old athletes. a strong union could get health insurance for a bunch needy ex players who were used than broken and discarded.

  13. ceraser45 says: Jan 28, 2014 4:13 PM

    If you want to be paid, then you can pay for school like the rest of us. They seem to think they are owed all this extra money, but honestly they dont deserve any of it. Nobody forced them to play college football, it was their choice. This conversation is a joke and no college athlete should be paid. Anybody that thinks so is just joining their crying-fest

  14. mogogo1 says: Jan 28, 2014 4:27 PM

    This is where there needs to be somebody other than the NCAA to issue statements. It’s impossible for the NCAA to be taken seriously when they start talking about things such as “the purpose of college.” This is a group that has done everything possible to make money off these students while depriving them from doing simple things like posing for charity calendars or holding legitimate jobs while in school because that would somehow be wrong.

  15. uziele says: Jan 28, 2014 4:30 PM

    Honest to God, did any of you guys even read what they are asking for as a union? They’re not asking for pay… they’re asking for their medical benefits and four year scholarships to be guaranteed even if they get injured while playing their sport…

    P.S. the schools that turn a profit make tens of millions of dollars. Texas for example had a PROFIT of $71 million dollars last year…

    That means even if they gave every single scholarship football player $50,000 on top of their scholarship they STILL would have PROFITTED over $65,000,000…

  16. thefiesty1 says: Jan 28, 2014 4:35 PM

    The student athletes could always hire the NFLPA rep — you know DeMo the pimp to represent them and defeat the NCAA legal eagles.

  17. fsu01 says: Jan 28, 2014 5:07 PM

    I say give the students 2 choices… Option A: Scholarship as it is now. Full books, fees, tuition, room, and board at essentially the college of your choice. If this is not good enough for you, you can go with Option B: Compete for acceptance to a college or university with the general population of applicants. If accepted you can compete for other scholarships both needs based and academics, but you will have to pay for you own tuition, fees, room, and board. But the pay-off is you get to sell your name. If you want to advertise all you can eat Tuesdays at Joe’s Rib Shack or sell autographs to an autograph broker then by all means feel free to do so. I wonder if given those two options how many would choose the safety of guaranteeing the college of your choice or option B you may not get into your first, second, or even third choice and you may not even be good enough to warrant the endorsements. I wonder given these options how many would choose the security of option A vs. the insecurity of option B?

  18. ahugusf says: Jan 28, 2014 6:38 PM

    “Only 20 or more turn a profit” . . . . Because they spend more, on recruiting, facilities, supporting so many more sports programs than others, and of course, providing meals and tutoring for all those added athletes.

  19. sportsguy3434 says: Jan 28, 2014 8:16 PM

    6sense10- we are talking about them forming a union not just getting more benefits. There is a huge difference but I don’t think you see it.

    Uziele- your numbers are way off- income, expenses, and they have 400 athletes. In 2012 they had around $17M gain. If you were their accountant they would be bankrupt.
    Ahug- yes, schools have necessary expenses to operate and reinvest. There are many expenses and privileges for the athletes and people are talkinh like they all make $50M a year.

  20. gritzblitz66 says: Jan 28, 2014 8:17 PM

    It’s one thing to make money from ticket sales, merchandise, or making it to bowl games but when TV deals and selling the students rights to a video game company come into the picture it’s completely different. These students have every right to seek compensation. To use this “they get a free education” is bull. Not every player on the team is under scholarship. So that means that some of these players are paying to play while making the university money. It’s ridiculous.

  21. charles130 says: Jan 28, 2014 8:50 PM

    People like to compare college football to NFL players.

    But the reality is there arent five NCAA players I couldnt live without. Sure….Johnny Football and a few others make the sport interesting.

    But 99.5% of them are completely replaceable, won’t ever make the NFL, and are getting an incredible opportunity in a free education.

    Those who are super-talented most likely end up in the NFL with a huge payday afterall.

  22. normtide says: Jan 28, 2014 9:35 PM

    I guess seniors won’t have to practice (work) anymore? College football will be bankrupt in a decade. Unions are an outdated idea. You can thank them for the rust belt.

    If they strike, do they lose their scholarships? Will the mafia be involved?

  23. rcali says: Jan 28, 2014 9:43 PM

    Yikes, wait till they see those taxes taken out of their pay! Now that will be a life lesson to prepare them for the realworld.

  24. keltictim says: Jan 28, 2014 10:08 PM

    First of I don’t see anything laughable in the ncaa’s response. Those schools that do turn a profit what exactly do you think they do with that profit? They don’t fill swimming pools with it. That money is invested into top of the line facilities and education. This is going to have far reaching consequences. Just curious, these clowns want guaranteed 4 year scholarships regardless of injury right? Is there done law I don’t know about that prevents them from not playing a sport and simply going to and paying for school like everybody else? Is the system fair? No. Is life fair ? No. They know how the system works long before they sign up and nobody forces them to sign up for it. They have every opportunity to go to school on an academic scholarship and not risk injury. They would, admittedly, have to work as hard at that as they would sports. The choice is theirs. I don’t think any one begrudges them the medical benefits they are asking for, if they simply went about it a different way a lot more people would get behind them. I think most objectors see this for what it is, the first step towards demanding pay in the future.

  25. vincentbojackson says: Jan 28, 2014 10:21 PM

    How about this…

    Any school that becomes a 100% self-supporting institution without taking any state or federal money can pay whoever they want.

    As long as a University takes even a dime of government money they shouldn’t be paying anyone but faculty and staff.

  26. ratsfoiledagain says: Jan 28, 2014 11:07 PM

    Let them unionize.

    They can pay for their own healthcare. The schools will no longer be on the hook for Joe Blow player breaking his ankle playing a pickup game of basketball while visiting his family. His union can help pay for that.

    The union can also pay for any/all books, lab fees and tutoring.

    Unionized kids will be making money somewhere, not from the university, so those unionized kids can pay for their tuition. That’ll save the school (tax payers) 50K -100k over four years depending on the school/degree.

    Let’s find out how greedy these kids are.

  27. normtide says: Jan 28, 2014 11:31 PM

    Don’t forget all the perks, including housing, is actually taxable once this becomes a legit business. I remember one of the best lessons I ever learned: don’t mess up your own good thing.

  28. uziele says: Jan 29, 2014 8:40 AM

    FSU01 – Scholarships don’t cover all of that. They cover tuition. And since some schools split scholarships (i.e. player A gets it in the Fall, player B gets it in the Spring) to spread the wealth, some of the scholarships don’t even cover that.

    Sportsguy – My numbers aren’t off according to Forbes:

    And there are 85 scholarship football players. The profit margin I posted was specifically about football, it doesn’t include the value of the basketball program which I am also sure turned a profit… but let’s work with your numbers and say they give all 400 athletes an outrageous $50,000 stipend… that would account for $20,000,000. Which means the football program alone according to Forbes would still profit only (ONLY?) $62 million dollars.

  29. sportsguy3434 says: Jan 29, 2014 8:42 AM

    Oh and wait till they say “coach I don’t do special teams. I’m union for offense only.”

    On the flip side, if a kid gets legitimately hurt (neck injury) they should have a free ride. I have seen a ton of fakers trying to get out of practice though. I am really okay with them getting a $5k stipend. I think it is rediculius that they can’t sign THEIR OWN NAME without permission from the ncaa. There needs to be some leeway for those kind of things in the future.

  30. normtide says: Jan 29, 2014 9:29 AM

    Didn’t the NCAA issue a ruling that all football scholarships would be four year from now on? Once again, I really hope some college decides to take advantage of my children exactly like they do these athletes. I can use their college funds to travel the world.

  31. backline123 says: Jan 29, 2014 9:51 AM

    Don’t most schools have students’ unions with some even ran by the students? This seems pretty obvious so I’m sure it has been addressed…just thought I would ask.

  32. mvktr2 says: Jan 29, 2014 4:49 PM

    I love how bigjdve and others defend the system. They’re essentially defending sharecropping and mill-towns. I mean the big mill takes care of you, provides everything you need for purchase at the mill store. If you leave we can’t take care of you.

    The flip side is no one is making the players do this. Getting an education isn’t a terrible deal it’s just not fair market value at BCS conf. schools. It’s at least similar to the NFL cheerleaders complaining about the pay. Fine then, don’t do it if you feel it’s exploitive. However the problem for college football players is that the university system maintains a monopoly upon talent development. It’s not like soccer or baseball where professional teams chiefly develop their own talent.

    For the record I don’t know that I’ll like the impact upon the game that pay-for-pay will have. I’m just not willing to continue calling a multi-billion dollar entity ‘amateur’. It’s an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

  33. normtide says: Jan 29, 2014 5:30 PM

    A stipend is clearly going to happen. But, you do understand that most athletic depts don’t make money, right? Not to mention the massive perks football players receive.

  34. tngilmer says: Jan 30, 2014 9:21 AM

    It is time to abolish automatic scholarships for sports and make all aid needs based only like regular students. Also eliminate special admissions for athletes. Its time to weed out the thugs.

  35. gerandall58 says: Jan 30, 2014 9:24 AM

    If they are going to do this then they should have to stay all four years regardless of their skill and desirability of the NFL !!

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