Working for the man

Here it comes.

An Iowa state representative on Wednesday introduced a bill that would classify college athletes in that state as employees. The bill is authored by veteran Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines), who currently serves as the ranking member of the Iowa House Labor Committee.

The bill comes as conversation heats up surrounding player compensation amid the introduction of name, image and likeness rights for athletes. Several sources told CBS Sports last week the NCAA will have to soon deal with an employee-employer relationship, at least at the highest level.

Hunter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If adopted as law, the bill would apply to Iowa’s three public institutions: Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. It would not govern private schools in the state.

“My intel says it has no legs,” said a high-ranking source from one of those public schools who did not want to be identified.

Wishful thinking, or nah?  I mean, this had no legs, either, at the beginning:

Hsu compared the Iowa bill to California’s SB-206, the original state NIL bill filed in 2019 that spurred the momentum for the nationwide NIL movement.

This bill would allow the Iowa state board of regents — those who oversee the public universities — the ability to fix athlete compensation in the same way it sets compensation for school presidents and other state employees.

This particular bill indeed may not fly at this juncture, but it’s hard not to see history repeating… especially once a legislature in a football-rabid state senses a recruiting advantage is in the offing.

37 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

37 responses to “Working for the man

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    I’m having trouble seeing how that would work. There’s a lot of trial and error in store, among athlete status, employee status, NIL contract status, and good old fashion student status.

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    • Funny how they’ve made that all work with teaching assistants.

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      • Hogbody Spradlin

        I get you, but I still think there are gonna be bumps in the road.
        Re teaching assistants: I was thinking about the students working the serving line at Snelling. Some of them could do a decent job on an egg over medium.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rigger92

        I used to be one and I’ve never understood why they wouldn’t use that model. Years ago on this site I offered it up as conversation fodder in one of your similar posts, may have been around the Northwestern football union project.

        Liked by 1 person

        • junkyardawg41

          The challenge I see is if “college” football players become employees, what mechanism forces them to remain students.

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          • rigger92

            Well, I don’t know if things have changed or not but back in the ‘90’s being a TA meant that your tuition was waived and they paid you a stipend monthly to teach low level core classes while you took classes yourself, all grad school though, one had to be a grad student.

            Still, aside from ignoring the grad school component, the framework of the program is that it’s a student working for the university that the university compensates.

            Liked by 1 person

            • junkyardawg41

              I don’t disagree the is a way to pay players as state employees. As a TA, you received additional benefit for working —- namely the waiving of tuition. I would postulate that in the current environment, I don’t know what benefit players would derive from being an employee of the University. And if they were employed by the school, why would they be required to attend classes.

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  2. Making student/athletes employees without a collectively bargained deal would have some interesting potential.

    Let’s say that all 50 states pass something along these lines or that the Power 5 all agree to it. Wouldn’t their next step be written employment agreements that would allow the schools to snatch back most of the power that they have been losing? For example, replace free transfers with noncompete agreements. Replace scholarships with a one-year contract with incentive clauses that would kick in and “renew” automatically.

    None of this is likely to happen, but if college football does go this route, it will probably suck the life out of the sport.

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  3. You didn’t have the universities fighting the legislatures to say we don’t want NIL. I imagine the universities are telling everyone who will listen, “Don’t do this.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I imagine so, too. But all it takes is one state… or Congress.

      By the way, the Cali schools were fighting the NIL bill tooth and nail when it was introduced.

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      • I think eventually the Cali schools saw the handwriting on the wall with where Alston was likely going. You’ve made a compelling case that the states that didn’t act have a leg up now on those who did.

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      • miltondawg

        TBH, when the NIL stuff was first starting the last schools that I would have thought would fight it were California schools. I just didn’t see the long-game at the time. In my defense, while I understood that it would be a recruiting tool, I never in my wildest dreams thought that right off the bat we would see situations like Bryce Young having nearly seven figure endorsement deals without ever being a starter or a charitable organization paying each Texas scholarship offensive lineman $50,000 per year for NIL.

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  4. armydawg

    Politician to athlete: “Son, we just took good care of you making sure you get the money you need and want. I’d like you to meet my campaign manager who handles contributions from grateful constituents.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. olddawg22

    I have one word for you OSHA! Well not exactly one word but that should be fun. Senator your 5 year window is closing fast!

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    • godawgs1701

      OSHA hasn’t shut down the NFL or NHL or any of the other sports leagues where contact and injuries are prevalent.

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  6. It would be interesting to see who the top 3 are each of those years instead of just first.

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  7. stoopnagle

    A pro-labor bill in a red state. Yeah, that’s going nowhere fast.

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  8. Faltering Memory

    It has gone from ‘I just want to be able to go on a date or get a late night pizza’ to I just want to be able to trick out my Range Rover.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jcdawg83

    Would the students on academic, music, non revenue sport, etc. scholarships also become “employees”?

    Liked by 1 person

      • jcdawg83

        It seems it would follow that the value of the scholarship would become taxable income at that point. It also seems that the “employer” could fire the “employee” for not performing to expectations.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent point…hard to see them being left out…especially the non-revenue athletes

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      • jcdawg83

        If they don’t, the time between football and mens basketball players being employees and paid to play and the filing of the first Title IX lawsuit will be measured in seconds. Athletes as employees will mean the death of college sports as they exist today. I can see tennis, golf, equestrian, etc. continuing as club type sports but athletic scholarships will be a thing of the past.

        The biggest fallacy in the “pay the players” argument is that the schools and athletic associations are making huge profits off of sports. The reality is that 90% of colleges lose millions every year on sports. UGA has over 600 varsity athletes, the other major universities have similar numbers. If schools suddenly had to start paying 600 athletes to play their sports and provide workers compensation insurance, payroll tax matching and offer health insurance (all athletic programs would have enough “employees” to be above the threshold number that would require them to provide health insurance under obamacare) on top of the cost of the scholarships, I think most would simply say “no thanks, we’ll pass, it was fun, see you later”.

        Liked by 2 people

        • that’s what’s going to be heartbreaking for some kids…when schools ax the non revenue generating sports programs…it already started for some universities prior to Covid…but you’re right, it’s coming en masse once players become employees

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  10. When the U starts paying its players, I think I’ll just start going to Falcons games. Better players, cheaper tickets, better stadium and it’s closer to home.

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    • jcdawg83

      I’ll stop watching much football at all if/when the college players start getting paid to play by the football program. The NFL holds no appeal to me. I guess high school football will be entertaining enough and I’ll have the whole weekend to do other things in the Fall since the games will be on Friday night. Of course, I’m sure it won’t be long before the high school players start whining about not being paid. At that point I’ll just have to live without watching any football at all.

      Liked by 1 person

    • godawgs1701

      I just don’t understand this line of thinking. What is so offensive about knowing that players are making money that it would ruin your entire enjoyment of a sport? If you enjoyed this football season, then you need to know that you were watching a lot of players who were being paid by NIL deals. I can’t speak to the closer to home aspect, but I will dispute the assertion that Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a better place to watch a football game than Sanford Stadium and I will vigorously dispute the assertion that tailgating in the dang gulch is a better gameday experience than UGA’s campus. Better players, perhaps, but definitely not better when compared to the opponents! Is the fact that the players aren’t being paid really the only reason you’re going to Georgia games? I really don’t understand that.

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      • Oh it won’t ruin my entire enjoyment of a sport, I’m a big football fan. But I’m not the same kind of pro-football fan that I am a college-football fan. I graduated from UGA, paid my own way for the last few quarters I was there, working after class and taking out student loans. I like thinking that the players on Dooley Field are attending the U for at least some of the reasons I did, and maybe they’ll have the same kind of attraction for the place that I do now, 47 years after the last class I attended in Athens.

        But if the University pays its athletes, my DAWGS will be just another pro team. Not saying that’s a bad thing, just saying my level of fandom will drop considerably, to the point where I’ll expect the same sorts of comforts at Sanford that I get at a Falcons game–I won’t be going there just because I love DAWG football, why would I put up with bench seats slow concessions hot sun.

        Hell, maybe this’ll turn out all right after all, maybe UGA can be a Falcons AAA farm club in the Southeastern League of Former College Football. That’ll be great, they can keep playing when the Falcons go on strike, like the Rome Braves will still be playing even if the Atlanta Braves won’t.

        Liked by 1 person

        • godawgs1701

          Hey, fair enough. I respect your opinion and I’m not trying to dispute you, I’m really trying to understand it. My argument would be that a lot of the romantic things that give you a greater connection to UGA than a pro team are still going to be there if the players are paid by UGA. I still don’t grasp the concept that you’d feel more of a connection to the Atlanta Falcons. These guys would still be students on track to be fellow alumni one day. They’d still be riding the East-West bus to a class on a Tuesday. They’d still be in the downtown bars on a Saturday night. They’d still be eating in The Grill and whatever downtown restaurants are alive at that point. I’d think that the guys who play for Georgia will still love Georgia the same as they do now – Jordan Davis made quite a bit of money this year but I expect he’ll be one of the guys wearing red and black in interviews and press conferences ten years from now like Champ Bailey used to. They’re still part of the lineage of Georgia athletes that goes back through Herschel to Tarkenton and on back to Trippi. A paid athlete at Georgia still chose Georgia for many of the same reasons you did – after all, I can’t imagine that there wouldn’t be a cap on the stipends paid out and they could also be paid the same at Auburn or anywhere else in this new world. They’re going to be Georgia Bulldogs the same as ever – they’re just going to be Georgia Bulldogs sharing to a greater degree in the literal millions of dollars they create for the University, the conference, and the television and licensing partners.

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  11. godawgs1701

    The recruiting advantage point is an interesting one – I’d think that it wouldn’t be very good for a politician’s future to be perceived as sponsoring legislation like this that’s at odds with a popular coach in your state. If this is something that Kirk Ferentz for example is just 100 percent opposed to, I tend to think this legislator might not have put his name on it. Following that thread, I’d think that someone out there thinks this can help those programs, so I’m wondering how that works. Would the pitch to recruits be that soon our state is going to require us to pay our players?

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  12. Why would a top athlete submit to being a government employee of the State of Iowa when they can be a free agent elsewhere? How would this affect private schools (Notre Dame) if all states pass laws together? If one of my employee players assaults someone, is the university now liable? But can you sue a governmental agency? How does the Athletic Department have say over state employees? Similar situations exist and have been litigated, but there are still Millions of issues…don’t see anyone creating a coherent approach to this beyond mob mentality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • junkyardawg41

      My guess is they will be state employees like Kirby Smart band like Kirby, will be paid a supplemental salary from UGAAA.

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  13. whb209

    College Football needs one of those antitrust exemptions like the NFL has.

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