Category Archives: Look For The Union Label

Tuesday morning buffet

Go get a plate and dig in.

  • Keith Marshall makes a funny about Bubba Watson.
  • It’s springtime, and you know what that means:  this year, the Florida offense is going to be good.
  • The SEC’s appeal of the NCAA’s interpretation of the rule permitting recruits to sign early multiple financial aid offers is being heard today.
  • A student task force at the University of Michigan found that Brady Hoke likely lied about a player who was alleged to have been involved in a sexual assault?  Whoa.  We’ll see if the rule about the coverup being a bigger problem than the original incident plays out in Ann Arbor.
  • Brice Ramsey, on his G-Day performance:  “I was picking up blitzes, making the right reads. I just need to put the ball on. I had a bad day throwing.”
  • ”In theory, it could give the private universities a recruiting advantage.”
  • John Pennington argues for a rule that would prevent SEC teams from signing kids who had been kicked out of other SEC programs for violations.  One rationale for that: “The fact that a booted player could come back to haunt a coach down the road might lead some to hang onto players a bit longer even if they’ve proven to be bad news.”  That’s never been a concern at Georgia, obviously.
  • And Seth Emerson says the NCAA can’t find a middle ground.  Wouldn’t it have to be looking for one first?


Filed under Crime and Punishment, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Look For The Union Label, Political Wankery, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

Northwestern doesn’t really care if you can play football, young man.

All you need to know about Northwestern’s 55-page opus appealing the NLRB ruling is this one sentence on page twelve:

Contrary to the Regional Director’s findings, Northwestern scholarship football student-athletes are not “initially sought out, recruited and ultimately granted scholarships because of their athletic prowess on the football field.”

Hey, color me convinced.


Filed under Blowing Smoke, Look For The Union Label

The NBA’s “three-way conversation”

How badly does professional basketball want to keep early entries out?  Badly enough to consider bribing subsidizing student-athlete compensation.

I do believe people are starting to freak out a little over unionization and the NCAA’s perceived incompetence.  Maybe that was Emmert’s plan all along.  Crazy like a fox!


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

Talk is cheap, chapter two

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.


Filed under Look For The Union Label, Pac-12 Football

Talk is cheap, chapter one

Solidarity, brothers!

Our union of professional football players stands firmly behind anyone who demands to be heard as a team. Every NFL player — past, present, and future — owes a debt of gratitude to our founders: Frank Gifford, Don Shula, Sam Huff and Norm Van Brocklin, who, in 1956, decided that they wanted to negotiate as a team with NFL owners over cleaner clothes, better work rules, better treatment of injuries and better health care. Our collective bargaining agreement today includes better pensions and benefits, safer practices, and injury protections because they fought for and won the ability to bargain and fight as one team.

If the NFLPA really wants to make a difference, it might start by no longer enabling the NFL’s end run around antitrust law by agreeing through collective bargaining to prohibit anyone from playing professional football until he’s more than three years removed from high school.  Although venting a little righteous indignation the NCAA’s way doesn’t threaten any union member’s job, so there’s that.


Filed under Look For The Union Label

This union aggression will not stand, man.

Never say Ohio’s legislature can’t act quickly in a crisis.

College athletes in Ohio would not be considered employees under state law, under changes to the state’s budget review made by a legislative committee on Monday.

… The Republican-backed amendment, one of dozens made Monday to the state’s mid-biennium review, “clarifies that college athletes are not considered employees under state law,” according to a House GOP synopsis.

Ah, yes, the party of free markets once again steps forward to preserve cheap labor.  And with alacrity!  The Northwestern kids won’t even vote until next month.

“I think this is a statement of what we all thought was obvious, and that is athletes are not employees of their university,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ron Amstutz, a Wooster Republican.

Hey, Ron, get back to us on that in a few years if Corch starts complaining that his hands are tied in recruiting by what you thought was obvious.  I bet the waters get a little murkier for you then.


Filed under Look For The Union Label, Political Wankery

“I believe it’s in their best interests to vote no.”

Pat Fitzgerald is taking a stand.

They say all politics is local.

In the case of the Northwestern union vote, it has become personal.

While former Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter and College Athletes Players’ Association chief Ramogi Huma met with lawmakers in Washington on Wednesday, coach Pat Fitzgerald delivered a message to his players.

Addressing them for the first time after getting clearance from university lawyers, Fitzgerald told them it’s in their “best interests” to vote no on unionization April 25.

Fitzgerald did not explain his reasoning Saturday, other than to say the players do not need a “third party” to advance desired reforms regarding long-term health care and increasing stipends.

Helluva thing to spend time on during spring practice, ain’t it?

Fitzgerald’s got to walk a pretty fine line with his opposition, too.

Under the National Labor Relations Board ruling on March 26, Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald is now in the position of being an employer whose employees are entitled to vote on whether to unionize. As the employer, Fitzgerald, his three-member staff, his nine assistant coaches and his four graduate assistant coaches are entitled to urge “no” votes. They can try to explain to the players that the union is a bad idea for them and for the school, but they must be careful in what they say. Under the law that governs union elections, Fitzgerald and his crew may not indulge in statements that could be viewed as:

• Threats

• Promises

• Interrogations

• Retaliation

If any of the coaches, for example, discuss playing time or team privileges or a player’s scholarship in the context of the election, the coaches would violate labor laws. If they question a player about his thoughts on the union, that would constitute a violation. If they suggest there would be repercussions after a vote to unionize, that would be a violation. But they are permitted to explain alternatives to the union and to offer suggestions about how to solve the problems that led the players to ask for the election.

At Alabama, Saban would have a lot more folks available to urge “no” votes.  But I digress.

I agree with Munson that we won’t see any cheap shots or sharp tactics from Fitzgerald and his staff.  That’s more likely to backfire than anything else.  But I do expect there’s plenty of emotion on display behind closed doors.

Well, belief and facts are often entirely different.  In any event, I think they’ll be careful.  But if the Northwestern players vote to unionize, don’t be surprised if tactics do sharpen, especially at other schools staring down the union barrel.  College football at present isn’t emotionally equipped to handle it.


Filed under Look For The Union Label

“That’s a pro model, completely different.”

Boy, after reading this Larry Scott Q&A, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think everyone in college athletics was working for free.

“The money that is generated is invested back in student-athletes and programs and enhancements for fans and making sure the programs are successful going forward. What would happen — in my view — if this unionization effort or these pay for play lawsuits are successful and you had to go down this path with football student-athletes and men’s basketball student-athletes, what it would do is take all the resources that are available for these other sports away and that would be a big concern from my perspective…”

Larry, by the way, made more than $3 million in 2011-2, and currently is working under a five-year deal.  At least somebody’s getting pay for play.


Filed under Blowing Smoke, It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label

When you lose the Republican, NCAA…

I doubt you’ll be very shocked to learn that players from other colleges have begun contacting the National College Players Association with unionization questions of their own.  Here’s the quote that should wake up schools:

Bohannon, who is in his final year of eligibility, said he wasn’t necessarily advocating for a union but wanted athletes to have more rights.

“Being a Republican, I don’t like the whole unionization thing, I don’t think that’s probably the best option,” he said. “But right now it’s really, there’s not many other options for our student-athletes, so I think it got the necessary publicity that we need, and hopefully the NCAA listens to some of our voices.”

A lot of these kids are begging for meaningful dialogue on serious issues that are important to them.  Ignore them at your own peril.


Filed under Look For The Union Label

Who needs logic to fight a union?

Shorter Ron Morris:  The NCAA possibly being moved by the threat of unionization to do a bunch of stuff I think would be good for college athletics is proof that college athletes don’t need a union.


Filed under Look For The Union Label, Media Punditry/Foibles