Are the scholarships enough?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) currently has strict policies prohibiting student athletes from making a profit from their participation in a college sport. This amateur athlete policy includes accepting pay or the promise of pay for playing, entering into a contract with a professional team or agent, accepting a benefit from an agent, or endorsing a commercial product or service as part of an advertisement.  The argument for this rule is that college athletes are already being given money, in the form of scholarships, which cover an immense about of costs the players would have.

This rule has most recently affected star Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. After allegedly signing autographs for a profit, the Heisman Trophy winner was suspended for the first half of the Aggie’s game against Rice. While this is a small penalty, some players have had enough of the NCAA’s ability to limit their athletes regarding amateurism.

Kain Colter, former quarterback for Northwestern University, led his Wildcats into the courtroom, rather than onto the field. The Northwestern University football team and the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) requested from National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for the right to form a labor union, believing that football was a job and they should be compensated for playing.

The players claimed that football was made a priority based on the amount of time dedicated to the sport, which takes away from their academics. While this may be true, Northwestern does hold a 97% graduation rate of its football players, according to ESPN.
The players claimed that football was made a priority based on the amount of time dedicated to the sport, which takes away from their academics. While this may be true, Northwestern does hold a 97% graduation rate of its football players, according to ESPN.

Colter’s argument was that “there was no way around” that football is a “job,” and and it sure seems like one. Collegiate athletes dedicate about 50 hours a week for football, more than the average work week in the US, according the the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Players may not take some classes because they interfere with team workouts, games, and other related activities.

CAPA stated their main reason for unionizing is to provide collegiate athletes with improved medical care for injuries and money for players to finish college after they are no longer eligible to play college sports. They also want their students to be guaranteed a scholarship that can’t be revoked if players violate a team policy.

Colter along with other players sat in a Chicago courtroom in the Dirksen Federal Building, pleading their case to unionize.

On March 26, The NLRB gave them that right.

Peter Ohr, the regional N.L.R.B. director, stated in a 24-page decision that the colleges’ scholarship players cannot be considered primarily students.

The players will vote on whether they want to join the union soon. While this is a small step towards combating the monopoly that is the NCAA, it could lead to huge changes in the business of college athletics.