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Larry Scott says NLRB “radically changes” student-athlete relationship

Larry Scott AP

Last week’s ruling by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago in favor of Northwestern football players and their desire to unionize “radically changes the relationship between student-athletes and their universities,” according to Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott.

In an interview with ESPN.com, Scott responded to questions related to the groundbreaking ruling last week in Chicago. The ruling said football players at Northwestern are to be recognized by the university as employees due in large part to the amount of time spent preparing and training for football compared to the time available for academics. As a result, the ruling paves the way for a college players union to develop at the private university. The decision has gained the attention of players from other universities, including Miami, and a union spokesman claims calls have been made to inquire about getting started with similar union talks at other undisclosed universities moving forward. Scott, a visionary and a game changer in many respects in the sports world, does not see the positive benefits in the developments continuing to unfold.

“I think we need to redefine what amateurism is as part of an educational or collegiate model,” Scott said in the Q&A with ESPN.com. Scott is not opposed to changing the way the NCAA model operates, but he stops short of suggesting it is time to start paying players and treating them as professional athletes.

“I’ve been an advocate for reform within the NCAA system,” Scott explained. “There is room to do more for student-athletes and health — stronger restrictions on time demand, covering the full cost of attendance. But what amateurism is, it shouldn’t exceed what’s the full cost of actually attending. They should not be paid compensation to play. They shouldn’t be seen as pros. They’re there as amateurs, they’re there as students and athletics are a really important part of what they’re doing, but they are students primarily and we absolutely should do more and I’m going to continue to push for us to do more. It just can’t cross that line of starting to get paid a salary or negotiating through collective bargaining. That’s a pro model, completely different.”

Northwestern has already stated their intention to challenge the NLRB ruling. The ruling currently only applies to private institutions, but if a union does form at Northwestern then it would open the door for so many possibilities across the country. Northwestern players are scheduled to vote on whether or not they will form a union later this month.

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4 Responses to “Larry Scott says NLRB “radically changes” student-athlete relationship”
  1. Professor Fate says: Apr 5, 2014 12:24 PM

    I’m constantly amazed at the disconnect I see on the collegiate level, something that must be driven by a desire to maintain the status quo at nearly any cost. Apparently that cost is suspension of reality.

    I like what Scott has done in the PAC12, but let’s face simple facts: College players on scholarship are professionals. They are performing a service in exchange for compensation. Some (okay, a few) of those players could likely get a scholarship based on academic performance alone, but the vast majority of players aren’t in that category.

    Athletics aren’t “a really important part of what they’re doing,” Larry, they are almost exclusively the only reason they’re at the institution. I agree that the compensation, based on the millions of dollars revenue enjoyed by most schools, needs to be modernized (especially in light of the commitment required by players). But I don’t see the NCAA resolving this issue to the satisfaction of quickly-forming player unions as long as the powers-that-be refuse to call a spade a spade.

  2. huskerzfan says: Apr 5, 2014 1:03 PM

    What these players and union organizers are failing to see, is that if these players do join a union and do start to get paid, they’ll lose a lot of support from the fans that pay all the bills and donate millions to the university for the lavish facilities and operating budgets that these schools enjoy.

    When a player chooses to play for our dear old and favorite universities they are joining somewhat of a brotherhood. A brotherhood that they are putting their blood, sweat, and tears on the line for our common interest. There is a sense of pride in that players are playing for the state names of Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Nebraska as their choice.

    Do players currently receive under the table money? Absolutely. But there is some naivety among the common football fan in that we can look past those transgressions because they don’t happen at our school, and it isn’t something that we can see, touch, or recognize. And even if some players are getting paid, 90+% aren’t, and we can rationalize that in our fandom.

    If these players become nothing more than hired guns to play football, all of that camaraderie and school pride is thrown out the window, and with it very likely a large number of fans.

    I have no problem offering up $3-$5K a year in spending money for these players on top of what they already receive. However, if we go down the road of actually paying these players outright salaries of $30-$50K or more a year, then I think we’ll see a great number of fans lose interest in “college” football.

  3. onlyoneleft says: Apr 5, 2014 9:28 PM

    Yep, $3 to $5K the first year then $5 to $7k the next year. Pretty soon, you will be talking about real money. If these prima donnas don’t like what they are getting then let them get another job.

  4. corvusrex96 says: Apr 6, 2014 8:53 AM

    If you look at college football for what it really is now , it is minor league football . A minor league that generates billions of dollars . This idea that players should just shut up and be happy that they get year to year scholarships that can be revoked at the whim of the HC is simply ludicrous .

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