When the coach of the football team makes more money than the university president, you have a problem. When the athletic director gets paid an $18,000 bonus because one of his wrestlers won a national championship, you have a problem. When the football program has virtually unlimited funding, but the price of college skyrockets- you have a problem. All built on the fallacy that college sports are “amateur” endeavors.
That idea just got a serious challenge from the National Labor Relations Board in a ruling today:
Peter Ohr, the regional NLRB. director, questioned that familiar construct. He called Northwestern an employer and deemed all its scholarship football players eligible to form a union based on a litany of factors, including how much time players devote to football as many as 50 hours during some weeks and the control exerted by the coaching staff and their scholarships, which Ohr called compensation. “It cannot be said that the employer’s scholarship players are ‘primarily students,’” the decision said.
The ruling, which will be contested, somehow only applies to private universities, not to public ones, but, if allowed to stand, and only private schools pay players, you’ll see a giant sucking sound as talent moves to the money. Ohio State would become “Little sisters of the poor” faster than Gordon Gee can tie a bow tie.
The reality is, being a college coach is a better job than working in a bank any day of the week (no offense to any of my banker friends) and that it’s not a job you initially go into for the money. It’s hard work, long hours and a lot of ridiculous rules thanks to the NCAA trying to maintain its stranglehold on one of the last great monopoly/slave trade operations going.
If the money that is generated by television contracts and ticket sales and licensing were divided reasonably between the players and the coaches, and the rest of it went back to the universities to help lower the cost of tuition, we’d be a long way toward reducing the skyrocketing costs of education. We’d also not be a nation of hypocrites, who believe that hard work is rewarded fairly. If you want to talk about communism in this country- how is it that every athlete gets paid the same tuition on a team (of those on scholarship) regardless of performance? While the bosses (coaches, AD’s etc.) get paid wildly well for the fruits of their labors.
It’s long overdue to change this system and pay the athletes. It’s also time to stop pretending that a coach is worth more than a university president.
Thank you NLRB for finally stepping in and doing the right thing, and congratulations for the smart players at Northwestern who stood up for their rights and called the entire country out on this disgraceful injustice.