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Urban Meyer wonders if unionization is good for college athletics

Urban Meyer AP

The impact of last week’s National Labor Relations Board ruling in Chicago, declaring football players at Northwestern to be recognized as employees of the university, does not have a direct impact at public institutions at this time. This does not mean coaches at public schools are not taking notice of what could be a changing landscape in collegiate athletics. At Ohio State, head coach Urban Meyer wonders if the unionization of college football players is good for the sport, and collegiate athletics in general.

“[To] say (players) can go out and get their own shoe contract and things like that,” Meyer said, according to The Columbus Dispatch. “I think, ‘What would that do for this great sport, and really, what would that do for college athletics?’ ”

At the heart of the NLRB ruling that supported the College Athletes Players Association was the argument that student athletes put in a tremendous number of hours to prepare and train for football, which may lead to less time for academics. Meyer recognizes this, but says measures have already been taken into consideration with the rules to allow for academics.

“A quarterback can’t play college football at a high, high level at 20 hours per week,” Meyer said. “He’s got to do it on his own. I think it’s a great rule.”

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18 Responses to “Urban Meyer wonders if unionization is good for college athletics”
  1. pack93z says: Apr 2, 2014 10:12 AM

    In that very quote “What would that do for this great sport” is at the very heart of the issue. The coaches and the schools can’t get past the idea that there is no flaw in their model because they are making millions while the kids putting in the work are locked into very tight financial packages.

    Urban (any other college coach) can strike his own marketing deals on top of his fat salary.. yet the kids cannot capitalize in this free market system. Also what isn’t talked about is the lack of options for kids coming out.. NFL will not take them for 3 years.. and there isn’t a minor league system to continue to develop within. The arrangement benefits the NFL and NCAA.. NFL gets a low cost way to develop and evaluate the players and the NCAA gets to basically force all kids to come to school and help print more money for the school.

    Will it harm the sport.. possibly, depending on how the schools and conferences of the NCAA embrace this coming change.. finally share a slice of the mega billion dollar pie or try to continue to hoard the shares for themselves.

    The real loser in it all.. the non revenue sports that will feel the impact. But that is another topic or tangent of how the schools deal with the coming change.

  2. coachmalik says: Apr 2, 2014 10:15 AM

    “I think, ‘What would that do for this great sport, and really, what would that do for college athletics?’ ”

    Or what would happen to all that control you have over your players?

  3. steeler1nation says: Apr 2, 2014 10:31 AM

    Unions have ruined American businesses the past three decades.
    Let’s not let unions destroy the greatest American sport.

  4. pack93z says: Apr 2, 2014 10:41 AM

    While I am not a fan of Unions.. the NCAA and big money conferences have no one to blame but themselves in this.

    If they didn’t hoard every penny they could, this may not have happened.

    If they didn’t punish kids for nickel and dime offenses.. this may not have happened.

    If they held the coaches to the same restrictions as the students in terms of movement.. this might not have happened.

    If they allowed the athletes some freedoms in capitalizing on revenues for themselves.. this might not have happened.

    But in the end.. the NCAA didn’t change the model for the athletes even though the revenue streams have exploded, so this is what comes of it.

    And in the end.. we the fans will either see the sport change radically or we will probably front the costs some more for the changes.

  5. tigers182 says: Apr 2, 2014 10:53 AM

    All college teams paying college football players would hurt OSU as they’re one if the only few paying players right now.

  6. steeler1nation says: Apr 2, 2014 10:57 AM

    Troll on, Tigers182

  7. bucrightoff says: Apr 2, 2014 11:03 AM

    steeler1nation says:Apr 2, 2014 10:31 AM

    Unions have ruined American businesses the past three decades.
    Let’s not let unions destroy the greatest American sport.
    The National Football League Players Association (a union…) has made their members more money than ever. The owners, through their proxy Goodell, has done more to ruin football than the players. But ignore that if you will…

  8. jkulha86 says: Apr 2, 2014 11:44 AM

    Ask the city of Detroit how unions and corrupt leadership worked out for them.

  9. bigbuckeye76 says: Apr 2, 2014 12:42 PM

    I’m fine with this….assuming that means an end to scholarships as well. Let these guys get paid….and also let them pay for school.

  10. blendedwhiskey says: Apr 2, 2014 12:50 PM

    My experience with unionization and collective bargaining agreements tells me that this is not the answer for college athletics. CBA’s can be so complicated and include such things as compensation, work hours, retirement benefits, healthcare benefits, FLSA requirements, etc, etc, etc. It could take years, even with arbitration, to hammer out a CBA deal. Even if this were to happen, college athletes would have serious tax issues to deal with. Colleges would be forced to change their model from scholarships to pay for play. OMG this is a nightmare that will ruin college sports. Just come to an agreement on paying reasonable stipends to athletes and move on.

  11. coachmalik says: Apr 2, 2014 1:23 PM

    NCAA might be greedy but they aren’t dumb and they know they need college football players a lot more than college football players need them.

  12. germanflats13a38 says: Apr 2, 2014 1:48 PM

    Sports are going to become a major, and receive the same treatment as the performing arts. These are training programs. Once everyone accepts this reality, the sooner the NLRB’s opinion becomes moot.

  13. corvusrex96 says: Apr 2, 2014 1:54 PM

    The powerful in any situation leads to excess . The unions are no exception. But for all the bad they are accused please remember that without unions the following would not exist paid holidays, weekends , 40 work week, 2 weeks paid vacation

  14. blendedwhiskey says: Apr 2, 2014 2:44 PM

    Those are all FLSA mandates from the US Dept of Labor that all employers are required to meet, whether their employees are unionized or not. I will admit that unions likely helped to create these standards, but I am opposed to the idea of unionizing college athletes for the sake of a paycheck. If they want to unionize for athletic related healthcare protections or unfair work hours related to their athletic training, I’m fine with that. I do believe they need a stipend to help pay for additional expenses beyond their scholarships, but unionizing for a paycheck will kill college sports as it exists today. They are student-athletes receiving generous scholarships for their athletic skills, not employees of the university they attend.

  15. cometkazie says: Apr 2, 2014 3:02 PM

    Does a college athletic scholarship count as income by IRS regs?

    Or is it just when the scholarship comes from the company the parent is working for?

    My company gave a 4 year $20k scholarship to employees’ children determined by a committee and on the students’ merits. This was considered income for the parent.

    I can’t see why any scholarship shouldn’t be considered income for the student.

  16. blendedwhiskey says: Apr 2, 2014 5:10 PM

    I’m not sure why the IRS would treat a private scholarship as taxable income to the parents. However, it would significantly raise the FAFSA EFC score for the student, which may prohibit their ability to qualify for Pell or other grants. An athletic scholarship is not considered taxable income, but it likely will be in the future if student-athletes become “employees” of their university.

  17. corvusrex96 says: Apr 3, 2014 11:05 AM

    The scholarships are not for 4 years . They can and do get pulled for a variety of reasons such as performance , injury, wanting to make room for a new recruit, the whims of the head coach, etc….

  18. jacksprat57 says: Apr 7, 2014 2:27 AM

    Well, Urban, it’s nice to find you in a thoughtful mood, old friend. While you’re there, perhaps you might pause to ponder whether the very same thing mightn’t be said about both big-time college sports money, in general, and high-dollar coaching compensation, in particular.

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