The best reason yet for a college players union

Per Mark Murphy, Green Bay Packers’ CEO and former Northwestern AD, in response to a question about the attempt to form a college players union:

If the players nationally are successful in unionizing, it will completely change the relationship that schools have with their players. The NCAA has been dealing with a similar issue with calls for payment to players, and the NCAA has increased the monthly stipends to players over the years, but unionization would take it to a whole different level. In terms of the NFL, the NCAA colleges have served as a great breeding ground for NFL teams over the years. If the college players unionize, there will be more pressure on the NFL to establish a developmental league. [Emphasis added.]

If that’s really, truly the case, all I can say is go, dog, go.

(h/t Kevin McGuire)


Filed under Look For The Union Label

23 responses to “The best reason yet for a college players union

  1. sniffer

    Senator, I’m missing your point with the “go, dog, go” comment. Are you in favor of an NFL developmental league? I think it have a ruinous effect on college football.

    • I’m definitely in favor of one. There are plenty of kids in college who don’t want to be there; this would give them a paying alternative.

      You’d flush away much of the hypocrisy surrounding college athletics with a developmental league.

      • stick jackson

        Of course, Murphy just happens to be saying what one would say if one were an NFL (quasi-, in his case) owner who badly wants to keep the current system in place so one wouldn’t have to spend the money on a D-league.

        I know it’s easy to say “the system will never change” right up the moment it collapses and then changes a lot very quickly, but the NFL is pretty good at getting its way on the things it really cares about; i.e. the ones that have a dollar sign and many zeros attached.

        As for the merits, I’d never really thought about it that way, but what you say makes a lot of sense, Senator. Although there would be the issue that college hoops now faces with most of the best players off doing something else. But football players are gladiators covered in armor rather than running around in there underwear, so the laundry counts for more, individual players for less.

        • If the NFL started a developmental league, perhaps it could adopt the baseball draft rules – straight out of high school, or after the student-athlete’s third year in college.

          • Normaltown Mike

            I think that is a great compromise & I wish college hoops would do the same. Further, I believe that if a baseball player goes to Juco, they can go MLB after 2 years or onto to college if they wish.

            • stick jackson

              I think there’s still a trade-off involved because the pros skim a decent number of the best players off the top no matter how you arrange things to mitigate the amount of disruption. Pointing to the baseball rules should be a reminder of what a sport that takes a major talent haircut could end up looking like. But, the Senator is saying that’s a trade he’d gladly make to get rid of a lot of the hypocrisy, and i tend to think I agree with him.

      • LorenzoDawgriquez

        I agree, the college game as-is represents a hybrid of amateur and professional, with the pro side taking over in recent years. Too many athletes who have no interest in school and are not qualified to educationally succeed on their own are their wasting time and our resources in college. A developmental league will do away with the argument about schools denying them the right to make a living. Then maybe college football players will much more in common with the other students and that is a win-win. Or maybe I am dreaming.

      • Cosmic Dawg

        +1000. And in the developmental league, at least the guys who have a slim chance to make the pros and also no desire to graduate could capitalize on their talent and hard work by at least maybe earning a $40k per year living doing something they love for a little while. A lot of our guys would still be at Georgia, still doing what they’re doing, and perhaps still majoring in nutritional science or whatever, but at least you’d be giving people real options based on their skills, the same opportunity the rest of us enjoy.

        And you also wouldn’t have to feel guilty about not paying players if they had a real alternative that wasn’t rigged by federally-approved collusion (both the NFL all by itself and the NFL-NCAA agreement) to prevent people from getting a fair price for their talents in a free market. And for a college football team, shouldn’t we prefer college students striving to play football to football players striving to become college students?

        The main downside as I see it, is that school may expose some kids who are primarily focused on athletics in high school to a world of learning that they may totally be inspired by and run with…but in fairness, it may come at the expense of some other kid who didn’t make it in because he’s right there at the cut-off line, even though he may be a better match academically for the school.

      • Bright Idea

        This sounds good in theory BUT we will be watching 1970s era college football and the schools that find ways to pay their players anyway will enjoy a huge advantage. Also if the NFL goes this route the colleges should not give scholarships for playing sports unless the player meets regular admission requirements.

  2. Let’s do Pro Football… for 1000
    Exciting moments for college players.
    Pro Football… for 1000
    Question Players were predominantly assigned by National Football League teams who wanted these younger, developmental players to get additional game experience and coaching. The expenses of these players and their coaches while living in Europe were assumed by the league.
    Bueller What was NFL Europe. *
    NFL Europe … *Yes

    • stick jackson

      Right. But the point isn’t that the mind of man can’t imagine what a football d-league would look like. As you say: “Believe in it? I’ve seen it.” The real issue is how big a crow bar do you need to pry open the NFL’s tightly closed wallet to pay for it.

  3. 69Dawg

    I’ve been in favor of a developmental league for a long time. The level of play on the field would drop some but the win one for the Gipper and team work would return. Lot’s of the players now could care less about the quality of the education and more about making it to the league. The MLB’s draft system should be adopted by all the sports. Colleges might still get D-League washouts that finally come to the realization that an education is going to be the only way they are going to make a living. The NCAA could maintain the illusion of amateurism and the alumni could still pull for their school.

    • If a kid is drafted into MLB and becomes a “washout” does he have the eligibility to enroll in college and accept a scholly to play baseball there? I understood that he could play another sport if he has eligibility but not baseball. Under your proposal wouldn’t there have to be some rules that are lifted/changed in order for a D washout to accept a college scholly to play football. I remember a basketball player that played in a church league at some point before college having part of his eligibility questioned for doing so.

      • If you choose to go pro, you don’t get to take a scholly in the same sport if things don’t work out. Don’t see any need to change that. A high school kid will have representation and will have college and pro coaches competing for his services. That seems fair enough to me.

        • It does seem fair. Perhaps I’ve been in the role of Dad too long and I have become too tunnel visioned. I don’t trust the NFL to have anyone’s interest but their own in mind. I would rather the kids go to school and get some exposure to another environment than the one the majority of them seem to come from. Of course none of that is my call or my business for that matter. It’s just what I think. NCAA Football to NFL is 2% of college football players
          ” Baseball

          Less than three in 50, or about 5.6 percent, of high school senior boys interscholastic baseball players will go on to play men's baseball at a NCAA member institution.
          **Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team**.

          ** Approximately one in 200, or approximately 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team.**

  4. Macallanlover

    I fully support a minor league, development league, whatever it is called, of about a 6-8 teams nationally. I feel it would get CFB back to utilizing the student portion of the term “student athlete” while allowing those who only want the cash to get on with it. It has often been an embarrassing relationship for colleges as they admitted players who had little in common with other students.

    CFB would still be competitive at a high level of play, and it could be set up with “regional” teams to allow for fans to support them. Taking 300-400 players out of the thousands currently playing D1 and 1AA would not make that much of a difference to me. The current college game is below the talent level of the NFL and I still prefer it. I would hope they could play on Wednesday or Thursday nights so there would be no conflict with the NCAA or NFL.

  5. Why would the NFL owners want a developmental league? It’s a money loser for them. Most people would have absolutely no desire to watch it. Why would the colleges want a developmental league? It’s a losing proposition for all involved.

  6. Ellis

    A developmental league? Goodbye college football. Who would want to watch the JV squads play bad football every weekend? Too much money involved for the ncaa to ever let this happen. The whole unionizing thing is just as sophmoric and will pass when players find it unworkable. My advice, just play football and take advantage of the free education you are given.

    • Yep – the solution appears to be simple. Make scholarships full cost of attendance, allow college athletes to trade on their likeness but no use of the university’s helmet/jersey, and force full disclosure of outside income through the NCAA. If a car dealership wants the star player to do a commercial in exchange for use of a vehicle, fine. Just disclose it and pay taxes. All of that pretty minimizes the motivation to operate outside the system while allowing the student-athlete to be able to support himself while in school.

    • Macallanlover

      You think CFB would fall to the level of “JV” football? There would not be the numbers you think because the NFL would not fund more than the very top of the athletes, a few hundred. If you only like watching the very best play, CFB already isn’t for you, just wait until Sunday and watch the NFL. The top 15 programs in the country might lose l00 players, only 7 or so on the average. That really does not reduce the level of play that much.

      The primary factor is maintaining the level of competitiveness between teams and I don’t see that changing much. Would there be a drop off of the number of 4.4 speed guys and a fewer guys making circus catches? Yes, but the level of play would be close to what we currently have. The excitement of the game would still be there, much of the off-field drama problems would be lost.