Larry Scott wants you to know he’s not a bad fellow. Or at least he doesn’t think he’s a bad fellow.
… And let me be clear — I am not defending the status quo. The Pac-12 Conference, of which I have been commissioner since 2009, along with other conferences around the country, have been pressing for NCAA reform that would reflect the evolving needs of student-athletes, allowing for increased academic support, improved student-athlete health care, and enhanced athletic scholarships up to the full cost of attendance. I am confident reform is coming within the NCAA in the next few months, and soon universities will be allowed to provide this additional support for student-athletes.
Keep pressing, Larry. Soon will come any day now. Patience, student-athletes. These things take time. After all, who could have seen the evolving need for improved student-athlete health care coming? Well, other than Walter Byers and every other suit who’s followed his example since… which, now that I think about it, would include you, Larry.
You really want to do something about that union threat? John Infante suggests it wouldn’t be that hard.
The response to the NLRB decision from Scott and other leaders in college athletics has been that reform is necessary, inevitable, and on the horizon, but unions are the wrong way to go about it. All student-athletes have to do is wait, just a few of months according to Scott.
One problem: the leaders of collegiate athletics are running out of time. The NCAA and college athletics will not and maybe cannot fix themselves overnight or all at once. It will be a process of first not getting any worse, then getting better over time. But to have the time to do that, the NCAA and its members need to earn back a sliver of trust that they will follow through.
To do that, they should not wait months or weeks. Larry Scott could get the athletic directors and presidents of the Pac–12 on the phone tomorrow and have them vote to guarantee everything the union is asking for that is allowed under NCAA rules. The conference could make it a requirement that institutions provide these benefits and assurances. They could even agree to provide cost-of-attendance scholarships and outside income opportunities as soon as the NCAA allows them.
The most effective argument against unions is to demonstrate they are unnecessary by providing the protections and improvements a union would fight for without the fight. At the moment, institutions and conferences acting on their own can one-up the union by extending these guarantees to all athletes, including walk-ons and sports other than football.
You’re supposed to be a cutting edge guy, Larry. Maybe it’s time to prove that in some other way than building a television network.