Just don’t call ’em a union.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s… a collective group coming together.

Big Ten football players have had conversations with league commissioner Kevin Warren this week about giving athletes a bigger voice in the future and about improving a variety of benefits for players. Warren also spoke with the leader of a nascent players’ association about the possibility of having an independent group represent the players in conversations with the league.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford said the conversations with Warren have been a positive, collaborative start to giving players a seat at the table in future decisions with the league. He said he and the other players he has spoken with have no intention of creating a union or entering a contentious negotiation with the league at this point.

Sure, Sean.  “At this point” sounds like it might be doing some heavy lifting there, but let’s give you the benefit of the doubt.

Stahl spoke to Warren earlier this week about a trio of initial topics the CFBPA wants to negotiate with the Big Ten:

• A representative on each campus who can advocate for players during medical situations or other disputes. The representative would be hired by the CFBPA and serve an on-site role similar to the player representatives in professional sports unions.
• Funds from the conference to purchase medical insurance policies for former players that would cover the treatment of injuries from their college football careers.
• A to-be-determined percentage of media rights revenue for players.

A representative from the Big Ten confirmed that Warren spoke to Stahl but said to characterize their conversation as the beginning of any type of collective bargaining discussion is not accurate.

Sure, sure.  Just a couple of dudes casually shooting the breeze with each other.

Clifford said he wasn’t yet ready to have a conversation about what players would do if the Big Ten is unwilling to make significant changes, because so far their conversations have been positive.

“We want to have a conversation we’ve never had before,” Clifford said. “Those three things are just the base of what we’d like to do. In reality, we think there is more that could happen. I could see a lot of changes being made moving forward. Realistically, the work force should have a voice at this point.”

“The work force”.  Meet the new “student-athlete” euphemism.

Stahl said if the Big Ten does not make significant progress on doing more for players, he believes the organization’s next step is to register as a 501(c)(5) labor organization and potentially begin the process of becoming a union.

There it is!



Filed under Big Ten Football, Look For The Union Label

18 responses to “Just don’t call ’em a union.

  1. Biggen

    A share of TV revenue? Now that will be a contentious topic. NIL isn’t directly affecting school budgets yet. But if the media pie starts getting cut into smaller pieces because players are being paid from that, I’d expect schools won’t be too happy about that.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Percentage of media revenues … good luck staying out of a labor dispute there, guys.

    I’m sure Stahl will live and work in modest quarters and the players will only pay a modest fee to join his organization.


  3. Wait until Vinny from Jersey visits to explain to the players how unions really work.

    “Yo…see here. My cousin? He’s on the team. Don’t matter he’s 35 and has a limp from being shot twice. Nice shoes ya got in the back. We’re selling those. And that media money? My boys will be around to collect weekly. Don’t be late.”

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Anon

    Jason Stahl—-the guy driving this. SEIU activist. community organizer. College professor…..Not a football fan but a fan up fucking shit up

    Liked by 1 person

  5. biggusrickus

    It’ll be nice to stop caring about this stuff once the first lockout/strike happens.

    Liked by 10 people

  6. siskey

    Isn’t there an argument that the sooner players organize then the sooner there is some kind of idea about what is going to be normal moving forward? Shit the NFL, MLB and NBA owners deal with unions and they are still making lots of money.


    • Biggen

      Those leagues are all managed by a single person and the teams follow his lead. CFB is patchwork of 3rd party rules and multiple conferences each with a different head. There is no real authoritative voice to steer the boat in one direction. How do you get all these people to agree?

      Liked by 2 people

      • siskey

        Not to be a smartass but maybe by making a union it would incentivize CFB to come together and figure things out.


      • miltondawg

        And, in addition to that, those three leagues are owned by X number of owners and the commissioner for those leagues works directly for the owners. Roger Goodell works for the 32 owners of the NFL franchises. The NCAA is made up of hundreds of institutions which have hundreds of student athletes. Most of those institutions are aligned with a conference which adds yet another layer of people involved. The institutions not involved with a conference would be dealing with a student athlete union while the institutions involved with a conference would be dealing through their conference with the student athlete union?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. realitycheckhere

    Of course there will be a union. Nature – and unions – abhor a vacuum.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. godawgs1701

    I’ve seen projections that Big Ten member institutions will each be collecting somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 million a year in media rights alone once the two California schools are on board. Sounds like a lot of the players have seen those same projections.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. dawgphan34

    It seems obvious that the schools need the players to organize. other than the knee jerk reaction to “unions” that most of them are likely to have, it would make their lives a lot easier.

    Players are obviously going to come for a piece of the new tv deals that the conferences are realigning around.

    Right now there is no upper limit on how much an 85 man roster can cost. We are going to find out and it’s likely higher than anyone is comfortable with right now.


  10. 69Dawg

    With the way the head of the National Labor Relation Board has gone on record, this is a real threat. Northwestern players got got nixed but that was under a former administration. This Administration is totally pro union. One thing the FCS (or just the power 5) could do is quit the NCAA altogether and set up a Power 5 Commissioner ala the NFL. He would be empowered to deal with this. Let the Power 5 players form a union and negotiate. I would hate it but it seems inevitable that this will happen. However, expecting the Power 5 to be proactive is just a pipe dream. They will fight to the last AD and to the demise of the sport we love.


  11. jcdawg83

    Doesn’t union membership presuppose being an employee? Who will the players be employed by? Will meeting any manner of admission requirements to a given school be a condition of employment? Will maintaining academic standing be a BFOQ? Will employment contracts be binding on both parties as to duration of said contract?