Situation at Northwestern might be beginning of the end

March 27, 2014 | Drew Forrester

If Northwestern football players go ahead now and unionize — as expected following yesterday’s labor ruling in Chicago — you’re looking at the first step in the erosion of college sports as we’ve known them.

The goof who made the decision yesterday said, essentially, “All the time and effort these players put in, coupled with the fact their athletic performance is directly tied in to their scholarship, makes them employees.”

What about the $60,000 education the football players are receiving?

How is that accounted for and why is that not factored in when discussing some sort of compensation table?

Oh, I know why.

Because the actual concept of going to college to get an education doesn’t connect with a lot of them.

I’ve been saying this for years ever since these guys (and girls, possibly) started bellyaching about working too hard on the field and not getting paid for it:  There’s an extremely simple solution to this whole thing — make all of the athletes pay for their school the way the rest of the great unwashed do and then pay them some sort of stipend for playing a sport and tie that stipend (and any annual increase) into their academic accomplishments.

I’m not sure what’s so difficult about that scenario.

That solution would be suitable for every sport.  Football, basketball, lacrosse, swimming, golf, tennis…whatever.

If you want to come up with a formula that somehow factors in revenue and expense for the sport in computing the stipend for the athlete, that’s fine, too.  In other words, it might work out that a football player’s stipend is $20,000 a year and a swimmer’s stipend is only $8,000.

I’ll warn you, as I’ve done for the last decade, that the minute you start paying these athletes ANYTHING at all, the best player on the team is going to want more than the worst player on the team.  If you think Johnny Manziel would take $20,000 from Texas A&M while the back-up safety gets $20,000 as well, you’re nuts.

But, that’s the pandora’s box the labor clown in Chicago opened up yesterday when he ruled the Northwestern football team has the right to unionize.

Calling college football players “employees” is silly.  They truly are student-athletes.

College athletes who go to school and play a sport enter into an agreement that’s called “trade for services”, which means they agree to take a scholarship or some amount of reduced tuition in exchange for playing on the (insert sport here) team.

Paying them is just going to muddy the waters more than they already are, believe me.



11 Comments For This Post

  1. BmoreB Says:

    Somebody better put the lid back on the box or it’s going to get ugly, real ugly. The fact that this comes out of Chicago leads me to question if a certain higher up had his hands on this one.

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    This is a lawyers dream it will be litigated ad nauseam.

  3. Chris Says:

    I think this could be a good thing. It might make the NFL have a minor league and then the guys who want to skip school because they want to get paid can. In baseball players have the option of going right out of high school if they’re good enough. Same with basketball. Regarding the other non revenue producing sports, I agree that they should be paid a stipend and have to borrow or obtain academic scholarships like the rest of us.

    Honestly though, the majority of these kids in the football factories aren’t going to school for an education.

  4. The armchair qb Says:

    Doubt that this will be upheld, Drew! Determining “student-athletes” to be employees is a stretch, particularly considering the fact that many “student-athletes” DO NOT receive scholarships! So, ultimately, this decision is bound to be overturned!

  5. Jay Says:

    Why does paying college athletes upset so many old-timers? These ‘amateur’ athletes put their bodies on the line and generate so much cash for the universities – I just don’t get how this is even an issue. You deserve to get paid proportionally to the revenue you generate in any job!

  6. Jason Manelli Says:

    Well, I’m in my 30’s so I don’t think that makes me an old timer, and I think this is a bad idea that will cause many schools to simply fold their athletic departments. I know if I were a school like Towson or UMBC, where athletics are a part of campus life but not a huge part, I think I would say club sports only from here on out.

  7. OVER40DON Says:

    They are student-athletes. Student comes first for a reason. They are already paid if the tuition is covered by the institute they attend and play for. Seems pretty simple to the common man. The judge obviously is not a common man.
    Drew pretty much outlined it above. Read it again a few times if it wont sink in the 1st time.

  8. Such Says:

    Yeah, you’re right, the value of a “free” education is equal to the fact that the NCAA is a Billion Dollar annual business. These kids today just don’t appreciate how good they have things. How dare they demand compensation while being coached by multi-millionaires hired by multi-millionaire ADs. After all, they get to play on tee-vee on networks owned and operated by the conference their school is a part of! Seems like a fair trade. And if they don’t appreciate that free education, then they’re just as dumb as we always suspected. After all, there’s a thriving and vibrant economy awaiting their entry into the “real world” work force, right? What a bunch of ingrates. Where’s Knute Rockne to smack some sense into these kids?

  9. BK Says:

    You do know Northwestern (and this is Northwestern, not Michigan) made about $70 million dollars in TAX FREE MONEY in the last 10 years off of football. Yes, tax free. You are living a supreme pipe dream if you think most of these players are still ‘student-athletes’. You really think these programs are bringing in these kids to better their educational system? No, they are bring them in to MAKE MONEY off of them and to keep their multi-million dollar per year salaries by keeping their jobs. It is purely a business now and should be treated as such. Do you know how many multi-million dollar law firms these schools have on their payroll to protect their interests? The kids deserve representation themselves.

    If you want it your way Drew, then any athlete should have the right to be drafted right out of high school and earn a living based on their skill set. You should then pull all of the TV rights from these programs, cut ALL coaching job salaries down to ‘teacher’ or ‘firefighter’ level since it is only supposed to be about teacher kids and not making money, and then allow the schools to only profit enough to make back the money they have put out to make it all work and not profit a single dime above that. Do you think the Universities would go for that? Of course not, but to pretend like this is not purely a business now and primarily about money is just plain idiotic.

  10. Chris, Bel Air Says:

    This is such a slippery slope. If people think college athletics is dirty now, go ahead and start openly paying them. What’s next, the high schoolers get $X for commiting? Then the middle schoolers? The signing day hysteria is sickening enough. Payign them is not the answer.

    They are students. They are being given a free education. Many of these schools are extremely expensive. If the student chooses to focus on the athletics, and complete the bare minimum for the academic requirements, and then come away undrafted and unprepared for the workforce, that is their choice.

  11. Phil Says:

    It is the end, not the beginning of the end, for me at least. I was losing interest year by year over the last decade. The whole system is crazy at this point, I really don’t want to invest in it anymore.

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