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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Northwestern University Football Players Are Attempting To Unionize

Now you know you’re underpaid but the boss says you ain’t;
He speeds up the work ‘til you’re ‘bout to faint.
You may be down and out, but you ain’t beaten,
You can pass out a leaflet and call a meetin’.
Talk it over, speak your mind,
Decide to do somethin’ about it.—Pete Seeger

Northwestern football players have begun the process of applying to the National Labor Relations Board to form a union, ESPN’s Outside The Lines reports.

The players are receiving support from the United Steelworkers and a group called the National College Players Association, which was founded by former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma. Huma says an “overwhelming majority” of the team’s 85 scholarship players signed cards requesting union representation.

eddieot Posted: January 28, 2014 at 04:32 PM | 201 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: college football, football, rip pete seeger, union

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   1. jacjacatk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4647600)
This will be interesting to watch.

Another reason to root for a team that I didn't really pay any attention to when I was a student there.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:32 PM (#4647608)
Good for them. There is no more odious employer than big-time NCAA sports. The coaches and athletic directors get millions, and the players get brain damage.
   3. starving to death with a full STEAGLES Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4647611)
beautiful. ####### beautiful.
   4. zonk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4647612)
100% behind them.

A great, great thing, I think...
   5. andrewberg Posted: January 28, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4647630)
A couple of things to note- these players who signed the authorization cards will never be part of a CFB union. Even if it gets through the NLRB process while they are still in school, there will likely be a legal challenge in the court system to their status as employees. The question revolves around whether there is an expectaion of a service in exchange for income or remuneration. The fact that they are not paid money probably will not doom them, but the question of whether they are classified as employees might end up being one of those "legal" questions that has more to do with the political leanings of the board members who make the decision.

Once the decision is finally made, all of those players who signed authorization cards will be out of school and the cards will be stale. The value is that it creates a test case so if they win they can avoid the lengthy appeals process for the next group to organize after the decision is made. Also note that they organized at a private school, which places them under the auspices of the NLRB rather than a state labor board. There would be some jurisdictional questions if it was a large public university, but the players would likely be "state employees" if employees at all, so they would have to fight the same battle in each state. If the NLRB makes the determination of employee status first, the states pretty much have to follow that decision.
   6. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4647648)
Best of luck, guys.
   7. Moeball Posted: January 28, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4647663)
these players who signed the authorization cards will never be part of a CFB union


Wait, CardsFanBoy has a union?

Well, of course these players will never be part of it, they're probably Cubs fans...
   8. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 06:44 PM (#4647668)
Gosh, I hope this doesn't jeopardize their chances of a BCS bowl appearance...

Seriously, I think this is awesome. Good for them. Even if it goes nowhere, I think the more things that draw attention to the way the NCAA operates, the better.
   9. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4647674)
The existence of walk-ons pretty much puts the lie to the idea that these guys are "employees." In what other walk of life do people storm into the office of the people running the shop and volunteer to "work" for free? Not only do they volunteer to "work" for free, but they also volunteer to do all the other training and preparation stuff the people getting "paid" do.

This fundamental fact is not changed by the correct realization that the adults in the system are total pigs. You can take the piggery out without adhering to the lie that the players aren't there because they get a helluva lot of enjoyment from the sport.

NOTE: None of this is a comment on the brain damage college football players may suffer. That's a separate issue that can be dealt with separately, through guaranteed health insurance and the like. I'm talking here about maintaining the fundamental structure of college football as a sport played by scholarship students of the universities against one another. None of the issues with the NCAA and the piggery justify overturning that -- nor will doing so fix any real problem.
   10. McCoy Posted: January 28, 2014 at 06:58 PM (#4647677)
So cooks aren't "employees"? Tons of people "walk on" to restaurants and work for free.
   11. GregD Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:00 PM (#4647678)
There are many people--thousands at a guess--who go through training to volunteer for the nypd. You see them in uniform at every parade. Other forces do it differently but programs like that exist all over the place. Of course police officers are employees and many of them including the NYPD are unionized
   12. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:01 PM (#4647679)
The existence of walk-ons pretty much puts the lie to the idea that these guys are "employees." In what other walk of life do people storm into the office of the people running the shop and volunteer to "work" for free? Not only do they volunteer to "work" for free, but they also volunteer to do all the other training and preparation stuff the people getting "paid" do.

There are plenty of unpaid internships in a variety of industries.
   13. andrewberg Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:04 PM (#4647681)
The existence of walk-ons pretty much puts the lie to the idea that these guys are "employees."


I see what you mean, but the more likely question that the Board will examine is whether there is a service expectancy as a condition for receiving financial assistance (either direct payment, tuition waivers, or other valuable consideration). I think you can make a strong case that the expectation that they play football for the school in exchange for tuition coverage is enough to create an employment relationship. It's the same argument under which a lot of graduate students are organized (paid or unpaid).
   14. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:10 PM (#4647684)
There are plenty of unpaid internships in a variety of industries.

Not where the interns work as hard, or are as well-trained or competent as the paid employees. College football has "nonpaid, volunteer" players playing side by side, and better than a lot of, "paid" players. (As well as training and working longer and harder than many of the "paid" players.)

It's a stupid idea -- the quintessential solution in search of a problem.(*)

The fact of the matter is that the value of the scholarship alone is far higher than the actual market value of the vast, vast, vast majority of NCAA athletes, including football players at football factories. This whole "problem" revolves around a tiny sliver of NCAA athletes and there's no reason to rip up the structure of NCAA sports over such a tiny sliver.

(*) And not finding the one right in front of everyone's face -- the overcommercialization and adult greed that have overtaken the sport.
   15. zonk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:12 PM (#4647685)
The existence of walk-ons pretty much puts the lie to the idea that these guys are "employees." In what other walk of life do people storm into the office of the people running the shop and volunteer to "work" for free? Not only do they volunteer to "work" for free, but they also volunteer to do all the other training and preparation stuff the people getting "paid" do.

This fundamental fact is not changed by the correct realization that the adults in the system are total pigs. You can take the piggery out without adhering to the lie that the players aren't there because they get a helluva lot of enjoyment from the sport.


As Colter said, though -- this isn't wholly about pay (and it should be noted that Colter is a big part of this effort, but has no real stake in the effort... if he plays football next year, it will be the NFL/CFL/etc).

For example, colleges have a disturbing way of casting aside players that physically can no longer perform via injury -- presumably, the intent here would be to address something like that as just one example.

Hey - perhaps this might end up (and yes, I agree, the effort more than likely doesn't survive in court) being the gateway towards contracts... but there are plenty of issues that colleges could and SHOULD address which aren't solely related to pay.

I knew a few players in school -- under a sleezebag like Gary Barnett at the time -- and they were essentially pieces of meat... Grade A meat to be carefully tended to - and plenty would tell you, to their detriment, when they performed... but ground into chuck when they didn't.

It bothers me that plenty of folks would view this as somehow destroying the 'sanctity of the game' when it could in many ways, have quite the opposite effect...
   16. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:13 PM (#4647687)
I think you can make a strong case that the expectation that they play football for the school in exchange for tuition coverage is enough to create an employment relationship.

Then every other scholarship athlete, right down to the eighth-string coxswain on the crew team, is an "employee."

That oughta work out well.
   17. Howling John Shade Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:15 PM (#4647688)
The existence of walk-ons pretty much puts the lie to the idea that these guys are "employees." In what other walk of life do people storm into the office of the people running the shop and volunteer to "work" for free? Not only do they volunteer to "work" for free, but they also volunteer to do all the other training and preparation stuff the people getting "paid" do.
It's kind of hilarious to see this post in a thread that is right next to "The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabermetrics Intern That They Hired Him" on the Hot Topics bar.
   18. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:16 PM (#4647689)
For example, colleges have a disturbing way of casting aside players that physically can no longer perform via injury -- presumably, the intent here would be to address something like that as just one example.

All that can and should be fixed within the existing system. (Though I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "casting aside." If you mean "taking away their scholarship," I'm not sure that happens much and if it does, it should be banned. If it means, "no longer having them on the football team," I see no problem at all. They can use their scholarship to get a degree, which is what they should be doing in the first instance.)
   19. Howling John Shade Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:20 PM (#4647693)
Not where the interns work as hard, or are as well-trained or competent as the paid employees.
In what world are walk-ons generally as competent as scholarship athletes?
   20. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:21 PM (#4647694)
College football has "nonpaid, volunteer" players playing side by side, and better than a lot of, "paid" players. (As well as training and working longer and harder than many of the "paid" players.)

The prevalence of walk-ons is being greatly over-blown here. If the walk on is out-performing the scholarship athlete, the walk-on gets the scholarship the following year and the other guy doesn't (the guaranteed scholarships is a key point of this effort). In addition to not getting tuition and room and board, there are other restrictions on walk-ons with benefits and access to facilities, etc.

The fact that there are walk-ons is a different issue, IMO, and does not preclude potentially legitimate claims.
   21. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:22 PM (#4647695)
Though I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "casting aside." If you mean "taking away their scholarship," I'm not sure that happens much and if it does, it should be banned.

That's exactly what it means. And it's increasingly more common that your walk-on superstar scenario.
   22. zonk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:24 PM (#4647696)
If you mean "taking away their scholarship," I'm not sure that happens much and if it does, it should be banned.


It very much does happen this way.

Scholarships are not at all guaranteed. They are year-to-year renewals almost wholly at the coach's discretion.

I went to school down the hall from a guy who was recruited by Dennis Green, tore up his knee pretty bad as a freshman, didn't have his scholarship renewed by Gary Barnett the following year.

The NCAA scholarship rules committee has issued strongly worded statements about the practice -- but it happens a lot... especially to backups and non-stars, and extra-especially when there are coaching changes.

   23. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:24 PM (#4647697)
It's kind of hilarious to see this post in a thread that is right next to "The Phillies Were So Impressed With Their Sabermetrics Intern That They Hired Him" on the Hot Topics bar.

But then again, maybe not, since walk-ons to college football teams don't walk-on with the hope to impress and get "paid." They walk on with the hope to impress and play football.

Which is also why hundreds of American colleges have football teams with all walk-ons -- because college football players play college football not because they want to get paid, or because they think they should be paid, but because they want to play college football.

Anyone who's been remotely in or near The Arena understands this, virtually without effort.

   24. jacjacatk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:26 PM (#4647698)
The fact of the matter is that the value of the scholarship alone is far higher than the actual market value of the vast, vast, vast majority of NCAA athletes, including football players at football factories.


You know why there are 50 rounds in the MLB draft? The superstars need someone to play with.

Even if we were to allow that there are lots of "overpaid" NCAA athletes, without all the players whose "market value" is less than the value of their scholarships, there'd be no market for any of the players.
   25. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4647699)
Scholarships are not at all guaranteed. They are year-to-year renewals almost wholly at the coach's discretion.

And that should have been changed 30 or 40 years ago. No question about it.

If the walk on is out-performing the scholarship athlete, the walk-on gets the scholarship the following year and the other guy doesn't (the guaranteed scholarships is a key point of this effort).

Sometimes. Not even close to all of the time. Plenty of walk-ons are also happy to be second or third or fourth string and do all the "work" appurtenant thereto. For free.

   26. Pirate Joe Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4647700)
All that can and should be fixed within the existing system. (Though I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "casting aside." If you mean "taking away their scholarship," I'm not sure that happens much and if it does, it should be banned. If it means, "no longer having them on the football team," I see no problem at all. They can use their scholarship to get a degree, which is what they should be doing in the first instance.)



If someone suffers an injury that keeps them from playing the NCAA rule is that the player can keep their scholarship and not count towards the scholarship limit for their sport. I can name numerous examples of players this has happened to. Are there really schools that do not allow injured players to remain in school and on scholarship?

   27. jacjacatk Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:29 PM (#4647702)
For example, colleges have a disturbing way of casting aside players that physically can no longer perform via injury -- presumably, the intent here would be to address something like that as just one example.

All that can and should be fixed within the existing system. (Though I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "casting aside." If you mean "taking away their scholarship," I'm not sure that happens much and if it does, it should be banned. If it means, "no longer having them on the football team," I see no problem at all. They can use their scholarship to get a degree, which is what they should be doing in the first instance.)


And, if the NCAA wasn't essentially in the business of exploiting the players, these issues wouldn't be coming up and the players probably wouldn't be trying to form a union. You're essentially suggesting that the NCAA should regulate its members behavior to prevent exploitation of the players. Given that you think that's acceptable, why shouldn't the players have a voice in that regulation?
   28. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:30 PM (#4647703)
Even if we were to allow that there are lots of "overpaid" NCAA athletes, without all the players whose "market value" is less than the value of their scholarships, there'd be no market for any of the players.

Sure there would. College basketball went without the best college-age players for years and didn't miss a beat. LeBron James didn't play college basketball. Kevin Garnett didn't play college basketball.

You could skim the best 50 high school players away from college football every year, and it wouldn't change a thing.
   29. Howling John Shade Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:39 PM (#4647706)
Anyone who's been remotely in or near The Arena understands this, virtually without effort.
Where can I find The Arena? Is it near The Cathedral?
   30. Shredder Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:58 PM (#4647715)
You know why there are 50 rounds in the MLB draft? The superstars need someone to play with.
So what? We don't pay 50th round draft picks like superstars. Hell, a college athlete on scholarship gets "paid" more than a 50th round draft pick.
And it's increasingly more common that your walk-on superstar scenario.
I think people are reading the first post too literally. Is a walk on at Alabama better than a lot of the scholarship athletes at Alabama? Almost certainly not. But he's probably better than a fair amount of the scholarship athletes that Alabama pads its schedule with every year.

I'm not necessarily in favor of paying college athletes any more than they're getting now, but I think scholarships should be for your entire stay at a particular university. More reputable coaches (I'm not looking at you, Les Miles), may encourage a kid to transfer, but they won't cut a scholarship. The commitment should be a two way street, though I'm not quite sure how to square that with early entries, with which I don't have a problem.
   31. andrewberg Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4647716)
You could skim the best 50 high school players away from college football every year, and it wouldn't change a thing.


The question is whether you could do away with "payment" (the scholarships) and not change a thing. Of course games would survive without the top-end players, but would it survive without the employment relationship? I am willing to wager that it would quickly start to look very different than it does now. Many players would gravitate to other sports, and that is not even considering those who could not pay for college if the wanted to.
   32. Shibal Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4647718)
What does out of state tuition/room and board cost at a public college? $30,000 per year? More?

That's a nice chunk of change to be paid for playing football.

They are hardly being exploited.
   33. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:14 PM (#4647719)
Sure there would. College basketball went without the best college-age players for years and didn't miss a beat. LeBron James didn't play college basketball. Kevin Garnett didn't play college basketball.

You could skim the best 50 high school players away from college football every year, and it wouldn't change a thing

1) You got that backwards. 24 was talking about the market for the *elite* players if there were no scrubs....

2) ...which makes basketball a horrible counterargument. Without the not-going-pro college football players, the great players don't have a market because there aren't enough players to field a team. That's not an issue with 5-on-5 basketball.
   34. andrewberg Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:21 PM (#4647722)
That's a nice chunk of change to be paid for playing football.

They are hardly being exploited.


Exploitation isn't the only reason groups organize. They feel that they could get a better deal if they bargained collectively to increase their leverage. We shall see if they are right, but not for quite a while.
   35. Squash Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4647730)
What does out of state tuition/room and board cost at a public college? $30,000 per year?

But in-state tuition is substantially less. Out-of-state tuition isn't necessarily the proper number to judge a player's compensation by because their replacement college (the college they may likely go to if they didn't play football) usually isn't an out-of-state college where they would be paying the full ride, but the college in their hometown where they would be paying significantly less than 30k a year. Players are essentially lured (a more pejorative word than I mean to use in this situation) out of state to play football when they could just as easily get a college education for much less at home.
   36. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:48 PM (#4647732)
Students aren't employees. Academic scholarships don't change students into employees, and neither do athletic scholarships. Pretty sure the courts will nix this even if the NLRB messes it up. If Congress wants to change the law, that's another matter, but very unlikely.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:51 PM (#4647734)
1. "Walk-ons": cases where walk-ons are starting caliber players are usually cases where the family can afford the tuition anyway and foregoes a scholarship so the team can use it on another player. Similarly with half-scholarships. This sort of thing happened fairly often on the UNC women's soccer teams in their glory days.

2. "Walk-ons" at non-scholarship schools. Actually these students are generally given favorable admission, "academic" scholarships and grants, other forms of funding (e.g. student "jobs" with the athletic dept) even at places like Harvard.

3. And it was asked above but I will ask again -- how will these essential reforms to improve the situation for student-athletes take place without the student-athletes becoming organized? College sports -- primarily men's football and basketball -- are multi-billion dollar industries where the vast majority of the labour is not paid a wage. The situation is not unlike the classic company mining towns where the employer owns everything. These sorts of employment relationships were done away with a century ago except in the education industry. They need to go.
   38. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:56 PM (#4647735)
Go get 'em, guys.

As Miami AP writer Tim Reynolds mentioned today, the NCAA doesn't want to make employees out of players - but it actively tried to do the same with Nevin Shapiro.
   39. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 28, 2014 at 08:56 PM (#4647736)
Pirate Joe is right, maybe this rule only came into being in the last 10 years or so, but there's no reason for a school to cut the scholarship of a guy because he can't play anymore.
   40. Hack Wilson Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:00 PM (#4647737)
Is the NCAA the most evil organization in the world?

If a coach verbally or physically abuses a student athlete the NCAA does not give a crap, but if a richly overpaid coach/team supporter slips a kid $20 to phone home---sanctions.
   41. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:02 PM (#4647738)
There would be some jurisdictional questions if it was a large public university, but the players would likely be "state employees" if employees at all, so they would have to fight the same battle in each state.

Aren't college coaches at public universities generally employees of an affiliated organization rather than the school to avoid various rules and regulations regarding state employees? Could the university's athletic association serve as a target for that purpose?
   42. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:04 PM (#4647739)
This guy thinks the union strategy won't work for a variety of reasons.

I understand, and share in, the collective distaste regarding multi-million dollar salaries for coaches and ADs. But deciding to elevate the compensation to football players is going to come from another source: non-revenue sports.
   43. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:08 PM (#4647741)
This guy thinks the union strategy won't work for a variety of reasons.

This guy is named Kristi. It's disgusting that the IRS treats athletic departments as non-profits.
   44. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:09 PM (#4647742)
The situation is not unlike the classic company mining towns where the employer owns everything. These sorts of employment relationships were done away with a century ago except in the education industry. They need to go.

Except for the fact that people weren't lining up on the door of the mine offering to work for free and getting mad and upset like people do when they're told they didn't make a college sports team and therefore can't "work."

The two situations share only the utterly superficial trait of involving the circulation of money -- and in most college sports even that isn't true.

This is simply an inane argument -- sorry, gotta call it like it is. It's literally mind-boggling that intelligent people would proffer it.
   45. Shibal Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4647743)
But in-state tuition is substantially less. Out-of-state tuition isn't necessarily the proper number to judge a player's compensation by because their replacement college (the college they may likely go to if they didn't play football) usually isn't an out-of-state college where they would be paying the full ride, but the college in their hometown where they would be paying significantly less than 30k a year. Players are essentially lured (a more pejorative word than I mean to use in this situation) out of state to play football when they could just as easily get a college education for much less at home.


Maybe the kid living in Kansas wants to play football in Texas. So he goes to a school in Texas. Why would you judge that kid's compensation using in-state tuition in Kansas?

   46. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:13 PM (#4647744)
This guy is named Kristi.

Isn't "guy" gender neutral?

It's disgusting that the IRS treats athletic departments as non-profits.

Why? The vast majority aren't profitable by any definition.
   47. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:17 PM (#4647746)
It's disgusting that the IRS treats athletic departments as non-profits.

Why? The vast majority aren't profitable by any definition.

This is an accounting issue, which doesn't capture the purposes of the organization. At this point they're pretty clearly run for the enrichment of a handful of people.
   48. Jim Wisinski Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:22 PM (#4647748)
But deciding to elevate the compensation to football players is going to come from another source: non-revenue sports.


As well as the student body as a whole, either through increased tuition or funding decreases in non-athletic areas of the colleges. I more or less agree with SBB here that turning college football players into paid employees isn't a good solution, it just glosses over the ridiculous hypocrisy and corruption inherent in major college football. It wouldn't solve much of anything and would further elevate a tiny minority of students over everyone else and would further make a mockery of what universities are supposedly all about: Education.

The problem is the system and the ridiculous importance placed on athletics at the college (and lower) levels. How does giving students a salary fix the corruption and misplaced priorities?
   49. Jim Wisinski Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:26 PM (#4647749)
It's disgusting that the IRS treats athletic departments as non-profits.

Why? The vast majority aren't profitable by any definition.


Profitability isn't what makes something a non-profit (or not). A failing business that's losing money every year isn't a non-profit but a well-funded charity is.
   50. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:28 PM (#4647750)
At this point they're pretty clearly run for the enrichment of a handful of people.

OK, but that description is equally applicable to universities as a whole; and probably most charities of any size.

The problem is the system and the ridiculous importance placed on athletics at the college (and lower) levels. How does giving students a salary fix the corruption and misplaced priorities?

I think the solution is minor league football. The problem is that compensation from minor league football is wholly unable to compete with the value of the compensation FBS football schools provide.

I really don't know where all this is headed. At a certain point, we need to ask whether state universities should be operating private enterprises with public funds. I used to be opposed to athletic scholarships as a whole but at this point I'm convinced that big time college football would exist even without athletic scholarships so it's better to have them than not.
   51. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:31 PM (#4647752)
Profitability isn't what makes something a non-profit (or not). A failing business that's losing money every year isn't a non-profit but a well-funded charity is.

I understand that; I'm just saying that most are happy to operate at a net revenue loss because their end goal is not profitability.

All the cynicism surrounding college athletics seems to ignore that there are heaps of money spent on other sports which will never turn a profit for the institution.
   52. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:36 PM (#4647755)
All the cynicism surrounding college athletics seems to ignore that there are heaps of money spent on other sports which will never turn a profit for the institution.

Including a whole host of women's sports that didn't even exist 40 years ago. The idea of paying football/basketball players and no one else won't even survive a Title IX challenge.

You could add a stipend to all athletic scholarships and that would work, but nothing beyond that.
   53. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 09:49 PM (#4647760)
Eliminate athletic scholarships and make the sports programs intramural.
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:17 PM (#4647763)
Eliminate athletic scholarships and make the sports programs intramural.

Ding, ding, ding. Winner.

Is the NCAA the most evil organization in the world?

Maybe they're a hair behind the Int'l Olympic Committee, but they're in the same circle of Hell as #1.
   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4647764)
I understand, and share in, the collective distaste regarding multi-million dollar salaries for coaches and ADs. But deciding to elevate the compensation to football players is going to come from another source: non-revenue sports.

Good. Hopefully they bring the whole stinking, corrupt edifice tumbling down.

Why should a kid who's good at lacrosse get a free ride while a kid that's good at math doesn't?
   56. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:44 PM (#4647767)
????

I'd imagine the percentage of kids getting free rides due to math aptitude is far higher than the percentage of kids getting free rides due to lacrosse skills.
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:46 PM (#4647769)
I'd imagine the percentage of kids getting free rides due to math aptitude is far higher than the percentage of kids getting free rides due to lacrosse skills.

I have no idea. But, why should anyone get a scholarship to an institution of higher learning based on their skill at sports? It makes no sense.
   58. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:55 PM (#4647771)
But, why should anyone get a scholarship to an institution of higher learning based on their skill at sports? It makes no sense.

Physical development has long been considered a part of a well rounded liberal arts education. It's related to classical ideas of development (Roman and Greek). I would venture to say there is less physical training for the average student today than in prior generations and that education in general is becoming more specialized. I don't think these are unrelated.

EDIT: Which is to say, I don't think athletics are unrelated to the missions of educational institutions. Why there are more athletic scholarships than, say, music scholarships is an artifact of donation patterns, IMO. Not only are alums more willing to visit the alma mater and donate for sports programs (as opposed to student concerts or mathletics); the sports programs are huge PR vehicles for taxpayer-funded state schools which are involuntarily financially supported by a population base that will never attend the school but want to feel like a part of it.
   59. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:03 PM (#4647773)
Physical development has long been considered a part of a well rounded liberal arts education. It's related to classical ideas of development (Roman and Greek). I would venture to say there is less physical training for the average student today than in prior generations and that education in general is becoming more specialized. I don't think these are unrelated.


Agreed. But that should be sports (probably intramural) for the actual students. Not importing a sub-class of semi-professional athletes who pretend to be students.
   60. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:10 PM (#4647776)
I'm not in total disagreement with your POV. My thinking (and I think about this probably more than is healthy) is that divorcing universities from intercollegiate athletics would have negative effects on funding for the book stuff as well.

I don't agree with each and every NCAA rule and I am more than sympathetic about issues like those raised by the Northwestern people. It irks me that college football players are sometimes portrayed as an exploited, downtrodden underclass. I participated in NCAA athletics, loved it, and I wish I had been exploited like that.
   61. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:25 PM (#4647779)
I understand that; I'm just saying that most are happy to operate at a net revenue loss because their end goal is not profitability.


None of them operate at a loss. Their owners turn multimillion dollar profits every single year, the owners being coaches and administrators. You can't operate a medium sized business and pay yourself and a small group of managers $10M a year (for example), then claim its a non-profit because you lost $500k that year after salaries (while cover the deficit with donations).

The fact of the matter is that the value of the scholarship alone is far higher than the actual market value of the vast, vast, vast majority of NCAA athletes, including football players at football factories. This whole "problem" revolves around a tiny sliver of NCAA athletes and there's no reason to rip up the structure of NCAA sports over such a tiny sliver.


Most division 1 football teams have annual revenues in the $20m-$100m range. Yea, those football players are a net loss, LOL. And $30k in tuition doesn't cost the school even half that, that's a retail price, the players educational benefits cost much less.

Fans would still line up to watch games if the top 200 coaches left for the pros. I suggest college football wouldn't lose much in revenues if it capped coaching and admin salaries at $200k, and would finally return a huge amount of profits to the university, not a select group of insider employees.
   62. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:33 PM (#4647783)
At this point they're pretty clearly run for the enrichment of a handful of people.

OK, but that description is equally applicable to universities as a whole; and probably most charities of any size.

I could rant about the administration of a modern university to the point that I would have no trouble ending the special tax status that universities enjoy. But the difference in purpose between a big time athletic program and a typical large state school is not that subtle.
   63. Bourbon Samurai Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:48 PM (#4647789)
   64. zenbitz Posted: January 28, 2014 at 11:59 PM (#4647793)
Closest analogy is Graduate Students. They are (generally) being exploited to do highly trained work (teaching and research) in exchange for a degree. There are a few Universities where the Grad Students have Unions.
Not sure if Northwestern is one of them.
   65. Squash Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:13 AM (#4647817)
Maybe the kid living in Kansas wants to play football in Texas. So he goes to a school in Texas. Why would you judge that kid's compensation using in-state tuition in Kansas?

Well first of all, I was talking about the hypothetical world where this kid isn't playing football, and saying that in that case the kid would likely not be choosing to go to an out-of-state public school and pay full tuition when he could stay in his state and pay much less, simply because the great majority of college attendees stay in state to attend college, indeed even stay local, mostly because of the finances. The choice for a student isn't a) pay $30k a year, or b) miss college, it's a) pay $30k a year to go out of state, or b) pay $10k a year to stay in state, or c) miss college. That $20k a year difference is the school's premium (and the school's responsibility) for bringing in a player who is out of state. It may "cost" Texas, or LSU, or Nevada, or New Mexico, $30k a year to bring in the kid from Wichita, but that doesn't mean the scholarship is worth $30k a year to the kid - it's worth what it's replacing, which most often is the $10k (or zero k) it would cost him to go to Kansas State, or Wichita State, or Kansas, or wherever. That's his compensation - "I don't have to pay $10k a year to go to Kansas" - that's his effective wage.

That it costs a kid more to go out of state to go to college is a quirk of the US educational system. A player isn't compensated more just because he happens to cross state lines - it doesn't change his experience (on average, assuming the vast majority of D1 college football experiences are roughly equal - obviously several are "better", but again most college football players are not going to a "better" place, they're just going to a different place. Not everyone goes to Texas, in fact only about 80 kids to go Texas, and the other thousands go elsewhere).
   66. andrewberg Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:23 AM (#4647821)
64- that's the precedent from which I took the language in post 13. I think that's the most comparable situation. I would also prefer straight intramurals, but I'm afraid that ship has sailed.
   67. Squash Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:23 AM (#4647822)
Closest analogy is Graduate Students. They are (generally) being exploited to do highly trained work (teaching and research) in exchange for a degree. There are a few Universities where the Grad Students have Unions.

The difference also is that grad students aren't doing dangerous work with lifelong consequences. And the football players are generating much more money for the school. I would also imagine that grad students, even if they are on one-year renewable scholarships, like many football players are, don't have nearly the injury/attrition/lose-the-scholarship-for-reasons-that-are-not-under-your-control rate that football players do. Isn't it something like a 60% graduation rate for D1 football players? I'd guess the graduation rate for grad school kids on scholarship is much higher.
   68. Shibal Posted: January 29, 2014 at 01:44 AM (#4647824)
What I don't understand is the concept that seems to be pervading here that football players are being exploited. A handful might be, but those are exceptions to the rule. Playing football is fun, even more so in college. And probably less dangerous, with few lifelong consequences, than getting drunk in your frathouse four nights a week.

The ones being exploited are the students who have to get student loans to pay hundreds of dollars each semester in student activity fees to help fund all these athletic programs. They are the ones who should be unionizing.
   69. God Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:41 AM (#4647833)
What I don't understand is the concept that seems to be pervading here that football players are being exploited. A handful might be, but those are exceptions to the rule. Playing football is fun, even more so in college


Where does it say that you can't have fun while being exploited? Major League Baseball players spent almost a century doing exactly that. Some of the arguments being presented in this thread are awfully similar to the arguments Charlie Comiskey & Co. used to keep the reserve clause in place for so long.
   70. jacjacatk Posted: January 29, 2014 at 03:09 AM (#4647837)
A handful might be, but those are exceptions to the rule. Playing football is fun, even more so in college.


My job is fun at times, and it's also a lot of hard work, both of which I assume apply to NCAA football. I get paid for it, and it's unlikely to contribute to giving me permanent brain damage or physically debilitating injuries.
   71. Zach Posted: January 29, 2014 at 03:21 AM (#4647839)
And the football players are generating much more money for the school.

You might be surprised. When I was at Colorado, the research money per graduate student in my department was comparable if not larger than the sports money per athlete.

I will second the "tuition is fictitious compensation" idea, at least with respect to graduate students. For all but the first two years of my graduate career, my "classes" consisted of thesis hours -- ie, the work I was doing to generate money for the school was exactly equivalent to the education I was receiving. If you think that counts as compensation, there's nothing holding you back from trying it in your own job -- the $30,000 a year that you never actually see will give you a nice glow.

An athletic scholarship is in principle different from a graduate scholarship, in that the athlete is receiving something that other people pay money for. But there are enough stories out there about the sorts of classes that athletes actually take to make you doubt that athletes are getting full value.
   72. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 29, 2014 at 09:41 AM (#4647851)
This guy is named Kristi.
In fairness, this guy's name is Christine.
   73. zonk Posted: January 29, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4647853)
So some additional details read this AM --

The Association will NOT be looking to bargain for pay (sure, sure, "initially") -- their two main goals are:

1) Guarantee of scholarships -- something everyone on this thread seems to agree the NCAA should do but doesn't

2) Medical protections


2) is another thing I cannot see how anyone would have a problem with -- again, take the kid that rips up his knee but good... in addition to casting aside a hurt player, schools likewise have no problem limiting treatments once a player has outlived his usefulness.

Again - setting aside the fact this likely doesn't survive in court - hard for me to see how Colter and company don't have perfectly legitimate points that deserve a broader airing and the NCAA could do something about right now.... but they haven't, they won't, so organizing by the athletes themselves would seem to the only avenue to affect change.
   74. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4647858)

1) Guarantee of scholarships -- something everyone on this thread seems to agree the NCAA should do but doesn't


The NCAA now allows schools to offer four year scholarships. Some do and some don't but at least it's an option and recruits can fold it into their thinking when deciding.

EDIT: they do have an excellent point with respect to the fact that red-shirts effectively receive a year of graduate school so they are eligible in their 5th year but players who use up their athletic eligibility in 4 years don't.
   75. BDC Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4647866)
For all but the first two years of my graduate career, my "classes" consisted of thesis hours -- ie, the work I was doing to generate money for the school was exactly equivalent to the education I was receiving

But most graduate assistantships aren't like that, are they? Either one is teaching for a pittance, generating tuition and/or state funding, or one is working in a lab generating grant funding – in either case, producing profit for the institution.

I suppose there are fields where one squirrels oneself away in the library and emerges years later with a thesis, never having entered the cash nexus, but that's not the main grad-assistant model, and if it were, I agree, unionization would never occur to any grad assistant.
   76. GregD Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:22 AM (#4647867)
Closest analogy is Graduate Students. They are (generally) being exploited to do highly trained work (teaching and research) in exchange for a degree. There are a few Universities where the Grad Students have Unions.
Last I heard grad students were not unionized at Northwestern though it's possible that changed recently.

I have mixed feelings on grad student unionization since grad students need things from their advisors (personal networking, very detailed recommendations, phone calls when they are a finalist for a job, etc.) that are hard to incorporate into job rules. Some places have a policy that grad students can be unions in semesters when they are teaching--they are in basically adjunct unions--to govern that job relationship, and then exit the union in semesters when they are not teaching but are on fellowship. That makes sense to me. Some grad student fellowships of course are nothing but teaching or lab work, and those pose a problem to my preferred system.
   77. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4647918)
I went to school down the hall from a guy who was recruited by Dennis Green, tore up his knee pretty bad as a freshman, didn't have his scholarship renewed by Gary Barnett the following year.
Zonk, that can't be right. Green left after the 1985 season (my sophomore year). Barnett did not get hired until 1992. There's no way he could have coached a Green recruit. I wouldn't be surprised at all, though, if he did that to a Peay recruit.
   78. zonk Posted: January 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4647927)
Zonk, that can't be right. Green left after the 1985 season (my sophomore year). Barnett did not get hired until 1992. There's no way he could have coached a Green recruit. I wouldn't be surprised at all, though, if he did that to a Peay recruit.


You're right, Peay... my bad... it's been a long time :-)
   79. SoCalDemon Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4647955)
Re 76: At the UC's, teaching assistants were unionized, but Graduate Student Researchers were not. The union is currently trying to get them unionized. For the most part, this wasnt an issue in my department, where there was little funding and very few of the students were supported by grants; everybody taught (interestingly, more advanced students frequently taught classes, and were paid at the same rate as TAs, which was substantially more than adjuncts were paid; in turn' adjuncts were paid substantially more than at most other colleges; it was a sad experience to go from $5500 a class to $4500 to $3000...). I think unionizing graduate students who do research is a tricky issue. Some graduate students worked essentially 100% on their own research, others 100% for research they were not getting anything out of directly, and had to do their own research on the side. And while GSRs get paid for a set number of hours, they are generally expected to work a LOT more than that, so there is a lot of room for exploitation. If this is helping them publish and get to the level where they are competitive post-graduation, to me that is one thing, but a lot are not, and at that point the "educational" component seems to go out the window.

Personally, I would get rid of scholarships and cap coach/AD pay to something ridiculously small (the high school model; college sports should be a part-time job for everyone involved); will never happen, but we can dream, can't we?
   80. BDC Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:36 PM (#4647966)
it was a sad experience to go from $5500 a class to $4500 to $3000...)

Come to Texas, you can get considerably sadder than that :(
   81. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4647968)
This will never go anywhere, but at least now we have an explanation for Northwestern's disappointing season and Colter losing his starting QB gig. The horror! A free year of education at NW and all they had to do was go 1-7 in conference play.
   82. SoCalDemon Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4647974)
Oh, I know! Some places pay as little as $1K a class. Turns out the one transferable skill I learned in grad school (stats) was worth a lot more that anything related to psychology or teaching :)
   83. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4647975)
Eliminate athletic scholarships and make the sports programs intramural.

Ding, ding, ding. Winner.


A clever idea, but college sports programs were all once intramural. They didn't stay that way, and not because colleges decided one day that they wanted to become big-money sports.

Even if as college president of, say, Alabama, you decide to make football intramural and tear down the stadium....

* What do you do when 80,000 fans show up to the Alabama - Auburn intramural game? Only 5000 can fit on the aluminum bleachers, and the fire marshal says you need to put up a fence and hire police and security to keep the rest out. With overtime that is estimated to cost $500,000

* Your comptroller points out you could sell 5000 tickets at $100 a pop and cover the expense. Do you do it?

* The owner of a local car dealership comes to your office and tells you that Auburn has been paying star players from Alabama high schools to play for their intramural team. He'd like to form a booster group to raise money to attract players to Alabama. He wants to make sure there won't be any problems with them getting into the school. Will you help him? Oh, by the way, his brother is on the board of trustees.

* Your local state representative comes by and says that he hears that this hot shot coach up in Tennessee will come to coach your intramural football team for $100,000. He would really appreciate it if you could see your way to making him an offer. Oh, and he'll make sure that your appropriation in the next budget isn't cut if you can get this done.

* The comptroller says that you could make up the extra money to pay the coach by erecting more seats and selling some additional tickets. Oh, and Title IX requires you to spend a similar amount of money on girls sports, so he estimates if you erected a 20,000 person stadium, the money would work out.

Etc. etc. College sports was already big money over 100 years ago, and it came about exactly this way -- organically, due to the vast amount of money people were willing to spend on it. The NCAA, for all its flaws, is an attempt to keep that within some kind of rational bounds. You can't just wish it away.
   84. Shibal Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4647980)

Where does it say that you can't have fun while being exploited? Major League Baseball players spent almost a century doing exactly that. Some of the arguments being presented in this thread are awfully similar to the arguments Charlie Comiskey & Co. used to keep the reserve clause in place for so long.


That's absurd. He's going to school, not working for a living. You don't see the difference? Jimmy Goodbooks, sitting right next to Johnny Football in class, is paying upwards of $30,000 a year for something Johnny Football is getting for free. For something he loves to do. For something 90% of red-blooded American males and 50% of American females would love to do while in college, if they had the skills. That's being "exploited"? Maybe, if you consider "exploited" to be similar to a limo driver exploiting the dude getting a ride in the back.

Sure, changes need to be made in college athletics. Zonk's ideas in #73 are certainly reasonable and easily adoptable. And sure, there are health risks involved in the game. There are health risks to Jimmy Goodbooks's pizza delivery job too. Sadly, Jimmy doesn't make the newspapers when a drunk driver t-bones his car or he blows his knee out tripping over a toy in the dark yard that ordered 3 meatlovers pizzas at 11:30 at night.

They might let him stay in school, provided he can still make it to class. Otherwise, adios Jimmy!



   85. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 29, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4647983)

If I remember correctly, Shane Battier was part of a group that tried to organize college basketball players when he was at Duke, but it never went anywhere. This article mentions it.

I have no idea. But, why should anyone get a scholarship to an institution of higher learning based on their skill at sports? It makes no sense.

I would argue it makes about as much sense as giving someone a scholarship for being a great musician, and should probably be viewed similarly (even though it isn't). Odds are neither of them is going to become a professional, and both things require some combination of innate talent, hard work and intense dedication.

Anyway, interesting discussion about which I have mixed feelings. I agree that the big-time college sports have basically become a way for coaches and administrators to enrich themselves on the backs of unpaid athletes (who are prevented from going pro in part by age-discriminatory rules in the pro leagues). And I don't see anything objectionable with what the players here are asking for -- and the fact that what they're asking for doesn't exist yet is a pretty good argument for why there should be a union.

On the other hand, I see SBB's point. Yesterday, I interviewed a candidate for a job at my firm. He was a true "walk-on" basketball player at an academically prestigious D-I college who had worked his way onto the practice squad and then into a bench role on the varsity team by his junior year. He was also a really smart guy with a 3.9 GPA. And I've interviewed numerous other candidates over the years who played non-revenue sports (crew, swimming, track and field, tennis), some of whom also had great academic credentials and some of whom didn't. I generally regard that as a positive on a resume on par with other time-intensive extracurricular activities. I understand why the school has all of these sports just like I understand why they have student newspapers and orchestras, and students dedicate inordinate amounts of time to all of them for similar reasons. But the editors of the student newspaper aren't unionized, the violinists in the orchestra aren't unionized, so I'm not sure why the vast majority of athletes should be either.
   86. Squash Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4648049)
Sure, changes need to be made in college athletics. Zonk's ideas in #73 are certainly reasonable and easily adoptable.

For what it's worth, I'm not sure that college athletes should be paid either, and I agree that Zonk's proposal makes the most sense to me. A college education is valuable, and getting one for free is a pretty nice compensation given the output of the vast majority of college athletes. Basically what it comes down to for me is that once you bring in a guy to your school to perform a dangerous job (football), you have to let him stay there as long as he wants to be there, and if he gets hurt you have to pay for him to get better.

Right now college programs have all the upside and none of the downside - if a guy bombs out they can drop him, no harm no foul. But if a guy turns into a stud and suddenly is generating lots of revenue for the program he doesn't have the right to tear up his contract and go to a different/better program. It should be one or the other - everyone is one-year renewable, no sanctions or having to sit out a year if you transfer programs, or everyone gets a four-year ride. For what it's worth I don't think either players or programs would want option 1, so option 2 makes the most sense to me.

I could also definitely be convinced that college players should be allowed to market themselves in college (they are not currently) - I understand the booster concerns and such but we already have those in the current system, so you might as well make them above board/legal/taxable. That's a way to compensate many of the studs without endangering the scholarship program or the issues of who gets paid what in which sport. Plus it's completely unethical that the NCAA makes all this money marketing these guys while they take all the risk and yet don't see a single cent, so this evens out the pie a little.
   87. GregD Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:29 PM (#4648051)
That's absurd. He's going to school, not working for a living. You don't see the difference? Jimmy Goodbooks, sitting right next to Johnny Football in class, is paying upwards of $30,000 a year for something Johnny Football is getting for free. For something he loves to do. For something 90% of red-blooded American males and 50% of American females would love to do while in college, if they had the skills. That's being "exploited"? Maybe, if you consider "exploited" to be similar to a limo driver exploiting the dude getting a ride in the back.
Johnny Football's work is generating millions of dollars of revenue that other people are taking as salaries. It is proper to take his tuition and living expenses into account as part of his compensation for the revenue generated by his work, but it is also reasonable to ask if his compensation is appropriate.

Jimmy Goodbooks is fundamentally a consumer, who creates revenues by paying fees (or probably his parents.)

These are entirely different situations, confused by the fact that they are sitting next to each other a couple of hours a week.
   88. zonk Posted: January 29, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4648065)
For what it's worth, I'm not sure that college athletes should be paid either, and I agree that Zonk's proposal makes the most sense to me. A college education is valuable, and getting one for free is a pretty nice compensation given the output of the vast majority of college athletes. Basically what it comes down to for me is that once you bring in a guy to your school to perform a dangerous job (football), you have to let him stay there as long as he wants to be there, and if he gets hurt you have to pay for him to get better.

Right now college programs have all the upside and none of the downside - if a guy bombs out they can drop him, no harm no foul. But if a guy turns into a stud and suddenly is generating lots of revenue for the program he doesn't have the right to tear up his contract and go to a different/better program. It should be one or the other - everyone is one-year renewable, no sanctions or having to sit out a year if you transfer programs, or everyone gets a four-year ride. For what it's worth I don't think either players or programs would want option 1, so option 2 makes the most sense to me.

I could also definitely be convinced that college players should be allowed to market themselves in college (they are not currently) - I understand the booster concerns and such but we already have those in the current system, so you might as well make them above board/legal/taxable. That's a way to compensate many of the studs without endangering the scholarship program or the issues of who gets paid what in which sport. Plus it's completely unethical that the NCAA makes all this money marketing these guys while they take all the risk and yet don't see a single cent, so this evens out the pie a little.


That's ultimately what rubs me the wrong way...

Any time I see billions upon billions of dollars flowing to and fro in a huge, especially essentially monopolistic enterprises -- and the actual people making those billions possible being told "Be Happy with X!!!", well, it doesn't sit right with me.

I'm not saying contracts, paychecks, agents, etc... but I just fundamentally do not like the fact that people who, at the heart of it all, add little to nothing to the actual product being sold being the ones getting rich.

The "idea" of turning college football into a big business, of signing TV deals, licensing deals, licensing players to video games, etc -- these things did NOT take any special skill or capability. Any doofus could see that people would watch football on TV, any doofus could hire a numbers cruncher to count eyeballs and create a price for them, etc.

The only ingredient that truly provides the unique value are the players. Period. The coaches, the college presidents, the video game execs, the tv execs, etc -- all of those people can be easily replaced by faceless thousands or even millions without a drop-off in the product.

But... if let's say "MacDonalds All-AMerican Jesus H UnionCard" convinced the top 1000 players to NOT play college football and start their own league... sign say,a TV deal, rent out stadiums, barnstorm, whatever... and let's say the next class did the same...

Where are the dollars gonna go?

   89. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 29, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4648084)
The dollars are going to go to the schools who give scholarships to players 1001-2000 to play for their schools. The players are not what is creating the unique value. Star players are with a team for 2 years for the most part. Freshman impact is still quite rareand if you're star as a junior you won't be around as a senior. It's the laundry that brings people to the stadiums and their tvs on Saturdays.

The XFL was almost certainly higher quality football than NCAA but it lasted one season because there was no connection to the teams. You put those same players in college uniforms and they'd sell out every game and draw monster ratings.


Beyond the free university education, the best players in the country are receiving the best education in football for free as well along with free marketing they wouldn't get elsewhere. A hell of a lot more people will know who the first pick in the 2nd round of the NFL draft is than people who know who the first pick in the first round of the MLB draft
   90. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 29, 2014 at 03:24 PM (#4648100)
The only ingredient that truly provides the unique value are the players. Period. The coaches, the college presidents, the video game execs, the tv execs, etc -- all of those people can be easily replaced by faceless thousands or even millions without a drop-off in the product.

But... if let's say "MacDonalds All-AMerican Jesus H UnionCard" convinced the top 1000 players to NOT play college football and start their own league... sign say,a TV deal, rent out stadiums, barnstorm, whatever... and let's say the next class did the same...

Where are the dollars gonna go?



I would argue that what provides the unique value is the brand name on the uniform, moreso than any individuals. There is clearly some minimum level of play that fans will find acceptable, but most people will pay a lot more to watch a game of their alma mater than they will to watch a random independent team. Just look at the money in MLB versus the minor leagues. Look at the track record of the USFL, which had Heisman trophy winners and future Hall of Famers playing in it but folded after a few years. I don't think that something that would effectively be a minor league for the NFL would have a lot of economic success.

EDIT: Or what SouthSideRyan said.
   91. SoSH U at work Posted: January 29, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4648106)
I don't think that something that would effectively be a minor league for the NFL would have a lot of economic success.


The NFL wants no part of creating a minor league system. Football is a difficult game to make money on without either a) TV or b) free labor. You can only play a handful of games (and no one has any allegiance to these teams anyway), but you need a lot of guys to populate a roster (much more than is required in baseball, for instance).

The overwhelming majority of college football players, including the overwhelming majority of football players at Alabama and Texas, have no true market value outside the college environment.

   92. zonk Posted: January 29, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4648111)
OK - I agree... I suppose I went a bit too far.

Technically, I guess it's the alums and former players that deserve a bigger slice of the pie :-)
   93. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 29, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4648122)
I bet they'll happily pay income taxes on the $100k compensation they currently receive.
   94. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 29, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4648132)
[92]as someone who sits through at least one illinois game a year I wholeheartedly agree. They're lucky I don't sue for damages
   95. Shibal Posted: January 29, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4648137)
I am all for $100 handshakes and so on. If alums are happy with a college kid for any reason, no reason why they shouldn't slip a few bucks into their hands.

I've tried it with some college cheerleaders once or twice. Unfortunately the fear of the NCAA made them refuse the offer.
   96. andrewberg Posted: January 29, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4648245)
I've tried it with some college cheerleaders once or twice. Unfortunately the fear of the NCAA made them refuse the offer.


Sounds highly solicitous.
   97. Zach Posted: January 29, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4648335)
But most graduate assistantships aren't like that, are they? Either one is teaching for a pittance, generating tuition and/or state funding, or one is working in a lab generating grant funding – in either case, producing profit for the institution.

That's what I'm saying -- grad school is a job. An apprenticeship, really. There are educational aspects, but the University isn't actually spending money or providing services after the first year or so. Because of that, it's hard to see a "tuition" that nobody actually pays as more than fictitious compensation.

Basically, what I'm saying is that grad school is a job that pays ~$30,000. That's much more accurate than to say that it pays $60,000 with $30,000 deducted for education expenses, because you never see the second $30,000 or get its equivalent in goods or services.
   98. GotowarMissAgnes Posted: January 29, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4648338)
What does out of state tuition/room and board cost at a public college? $30,000 per year? More?

That's a nice chunk of change to be paid for playing football.

They are hardly being exploited.


Minor league baseball free agents--a decent estimate of the free market price for minor league athletic talent-- make $12-25,000 per month.

And not only are GAs employees, at many universities, they are unionized.
   99. zonk Posted: January 29, 2014 at 09:21 PM (#4648358)
I do just want to point out that it's a bit unfair to just toss out the retail tuition numbers...

I certainly wasn't any sort of scholarship athlete (or student, for that matter) -- and yeah, I'm still paying Sallie -- but IIRC, I was also getting about 30-50% of my off the top tuition straight up through grants. Financial aid is calculated against family income - and I'm betting just like most of the student body, most of the players would be getting aid of a similar sort anyway. Of course, then we get into the argument about whether they'd gain entrance to many of the institutions to begin with. My experience may not be unique - but FWIW, I really can't think of a single scholarship athlete I knew in college of whom I'd say "No way that guy (or girl, if you want to toss the whole AD into the mix) belongs here". There were those that I think I was clearly smarter than - and whom I'm betting I had much better transcripts and SAT scores - but there were also probably an equal number who I feel pretty certain were smarter than me.... For example, one of the O linemen I knew was a biomedical engineering major and I owe a passing grade in Calculus II to him...

At the end of the day, I'll just repeat the idea that it doesn't sit right with me that we're looking at a multi-billion dollar industry that it's somehow wrong that the guys people are actually paying that money to watch have virtually no say in a whole host of things about it, to say nothing of disliking the idea "they oughta be GRATEFUL!!!".

There are certainly greater injustices in the world, of course, I'm just saying is all...
   100. steve821 Posted: January 29, 2014 at 09:59 PM (#4648372)
What Squash suggested really is the best solution:

I could also definitely be convinced that college players should be allowed to market themselves in college (they are not currently) - I understand the booster concerns and such but we already have those in the current system, so you might as well make them above board/legal/taxable. That's a way to compensate many of the studs without endangering the scholarship program or the issues of who gets paid what in which sport. Plus it's completely unethical that the NCAA makes all this money marketing these guys while they take all the risk and yet don't see a single cent, so this evens out the pie a little.

It's really mystifying to me that the NCAA has managed to convince people that a booster paying a kid is somehow immoral. We live in a free/capitalist society so what exactly is unethical about paying a kid to play ball for my alma mater? Two consenting parties - payment for services that are not in any way morally suspect. It is a simple and perfect solution. No money comes out of the university athletic budget - so women's field hockey continues to get funded - and the star players get closer to being paid market value while the third string punter probably just gets room and board.
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