Seth Emerson speaks to various actors around campus about unionization and player compensation and, as often seems to be the case, the most rational observations come from the student-athletes.
Chris Conley speaking intelligently about a topic is pretty much a given:
“People need to realize that whether it’s by unionizing or it’s by another means, there are some issues that need to be looked at, other than just paying athletes,” said Georgia senior receiver Chris Conley, who is a student-athlete rep to the NCAA. “It’s student-athlete well-being. Student-athlete experience.”
That’s the thing, isn’t it? If you take the political sentiment out of it, unionization is nothing but a means for student-athletes to get their concerns heard in a legitimate fashion. It’s not an end. While I don’t expect the Northwestern players to vote for a union, it was important for them to have the choice. That’s what’s finally awakened the schools and the NCAA. I hope the NLRB leaves the ruling in effect on appeal, because the players need the leverage that the threat of a vote brings.
As far as compensation goes, there’s the reality of being a star athlete in a non-revenue sport. Meet Marion Crowder.
… Only her sport is women’s soccer, and Crowder knows the difference in the grand scheme.
“I think we understand that we’re not necessarily the money-makers of the university,” said Crowder, who as a freshman led the Bulldogs in goals and points last fall. “And I honestly think that we’re all happy to be playing college soccer.”
These are days of change in college sports. And on the campus at Georgia, key figures await the result, partly with wariness but also with a sense that some change will be good.
“If the Johnny Manziels and Todd Gurleys and Keith Marshalls of the world, since their names are plastered everywhere, I can understand if they have a much stronger opinion on what they want and what they see is fit,” Crowder said.
I have a hard time believing there isn’t enough money flowing into big time college sports to find a reasonable way to accommodate the commercial demands of the star football player and the star women’s soccer player. There simply isn’t enough will on the administrative side to find a solution right now. That’s why Mark Richt’s observation sums it all up.