Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott was already on record speaking his mind about the concept of a players union, but he reiterated his stance in essay form in a guest column for USA Today. Using a statement he agreed was strong in tone, Scott says the decision recently made by the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago to have Northwestern football players recognized as employees of the university, allowing them to pursue forming a union, is a terrible idea and could eventually destroy collegiate athletics.
Scott is a visionary at heart and he is certainly not opposed to making changes for the greater good. This is, in fact, why the Pac 10 brought him onboard as a commissioner as the conference was beginning to expand. It was Scott’s foresight and mindset that allowed him to lead the Pac 10 into a new era, complete with an updated name, logo and a new television network. So when Scott comes out swinging a bat at the idea of a players union as sternly as he does in USA Today, it should not go unnoticed.
“The challenge collegiate sports faces in an era of expanding popularity is to ensure that revenues are used for the benefit of the universities and their students, and to ensure that the paramount role of “student” in “student-athlete” is not obscured,” Scott says in his column. “We need to safeguard and strengthen our commitment to academics to help find the right balance, not throw in the towel and characterize students as employees.”
Scott then goes on to speak on behalf of the entire Pac 12, again stressing the importance of academics within the conference.
“At Pac-12 universities, which are some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world, student-athletes represent the intersection of academic excellence and athletic achievement, graduating with their fellow students and winning the most NCAA titles of any conference,” Scott says. “Recent Pac-12 football student-athletes Andrew Luck of Stanford and Matt Barkley of the University of Southern California exemplify this balance, opting to delay turning professional to achieve their degrees and reap the full value of their educations.”
Now we just need to get the opinions of Luck and Barkley on the record to see if they help support the statements made by Scott or if they go against the grain of the commissioner’s words.
This is a slightly stronger message being sent by the commissioner of the Pac 12 compared to the statements and quotes recently shared in an interview with ESPN.com, in which Scott said the desire players may have to unionize would radically change the relationship with student-athletes.