Everybody seems to have some sort of opinion on the push for a college football players union unfolding before our eyes. That includes college football’s only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, Archie Griffin. The president and CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association was on hand for a recent Buckeyes spring practice, and he took some time to answer some questions about the news this week regarding the National Labor Relations Board’s ruling that Northwestern football players should be classified as employees of the university, a ruling that helps the College Athletes Players Association move another step closer to formal unionization.
“It doesn’t surprise me, I’ll say that,” said Griffin according to The Columbus Dispatch. “We should have seen it coming with college football the way it is today, with the dollars being made, the prices being charged for tickets, and the salaries of coaches and administrators.”
While the idea of actually paying the players is not at the top of the agenda for the CAPA, having a seat to represent players at the NCAA table and addressing other concerns is. As the sport has grown over the years, so to has the business operations behind the scenes. With student-athletes not receiving a slice of the pie, Northwestern players, led by Kain Colter, formed a group seeking to unionize at some point in the future. It is no surprise to Griffin to see how this group of players has come together and started to have some impact.
“The players are not blind,” Griffin said. “They see the dollars being made in the game. It’s obvious. That’s kind of why they are where they are. They feel the term amateur is keeping them from getting what they deserve.”
The union talk has led to reactions from many coaches, including South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier and Clemson’s Dabo Swinny. Both coaches are in favor of stipends, but had slightly different reactions to the news out of Chicago this week. Asked how his former coach, Woody Hayes, would have reacted to the news, Griffin said Hayes would have supported the players.
“I honestly think Coach would have been for what’s best for the players,” said Griffin.