Category Archives: Look For The Union Label

Kids these days. When I was in school…

So the P5 conferences announced with some fanfare yesterday a series of proposals to give student-athletes back some of their free time that has been steadily encroached upon over the years in the name of amateurism because college coaches are paid ever increasing big bucks to win.  They even gave the proposals a catchy name, Flex 21.

What’s interesting about the proposals themselves is how they illustrate the degree to which these kids have had their time in college taken away from them.

FLEX 21

In Season
Current Rule
• No countable athletically related activities during one calendar day per week
• Travel day related to athletics participation may be considered a day off

Proposed Changes
• Travel days may not count as days off

Academic Year
Current Rule
• No countable athletically related activities during two calendar days per week outside the season.

Proposed Changes
• 14 Additional Days off. Can be used during or outside the season

Overnight
Current Rule
• No countable athletically related activities between midnight and 5 a.m.

Proposed Changes
• 8-hour block of free time, any time between 9:00 pm to 6:00 am.

Postseason
Current Rule
• Varies by sport

Proposed Changes
• 7-day recovery time

I’m sure many of you are prepared to jump up and loudly proclaim that this is what student-athletes bargained for when they received their scholarships, but I’m just wondering how many other college kids on scholarship have had to surrender their lives to such an extent.

In all, it’s pretty pathetic.  Good thing playing D-1 football is not a job.

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Same as it ever was.

For all you amateurism romantics who believe nothing’s changed in the wide, wide world of college sports that justifies any demand that student-athletes deserve something more than the traditional scholarship, room and board arrangement, allow Jeremy Foley, of all people, to retort.

Jeremy Foley, who is retiring as Florida athletic director on Oct. 1, notes how much longer the seasons are then when he first got to the school in 1976. Back then, he said, there were 10 football games and now there are 12 with as many as 15 now for those who advance in the postseason. Basketball has gone from 27 games to 31 regular season games and the NCAA tournament has expanded.

It’s not just that, of course, and the linked article touches on many other time demands that have cropped up as the money being paid to schools has ratched up:  mandatory summer practice hours, weird TV times, to name just a couple.

The point is that the world has changed and the way these kids are being compensated for their time and effort needs to change, as well.

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The adults in the room

It’s funny, but I often find the comments from student-athletes about the major issues facing college athletics to be far more thoughtful than those coming from the people running college athletics.

Now that I think about it, I should probably come up with a more accurate adjective than funny.

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Example #14765 of how the NLI is the best deal in sports

To some extent, this…

… explains this.

A chaotic week that saw Baylor not only lose coach Art Briles, but also its AD and president in the wake of a sexual assault scandal, has decimated the Bears’ 2017 recruiting class, and seven freshmen from Baylor’s 2016 class have asked, or plan to ask, for releases from their scholarships, according to an ESPN report.

On Wednesday night FOX Sports spoke to Collis Cobb, the father of one of those seven players, Parrish Cobb, a highly regarded cornerback. The elder Cobb told FOX that they filed to get his son’s release from his LOI on Saturday, two days after Briles was let go, and someone in Baylor’s compliance office told him they weren’t willing to do it. Baylor has a 30-day deadline to respond to each recruit’s request for a release and without that release, the recruit is not allowed to have any contact with another school.  [Emphasis added.]

Could you possibly be more tone deaf if you tried?

On Wednesday Collis Cobb said he got a visit from Jim Grobe, Baylor’s new acting head coach, and three other staffers who visited his home in Waco to try to convince them to stick with Baylor. The elder Cobb said it was a “good visit, but we let them know my son wants to pursue other options. His mind is made up.”

The Cobbs’ biggest concern is the uncertainty around Baylor. “Right now, we don’t know the status of Baylor’s football program,” Collis Cobb said. “We don’t know if (the current coaching staff) is going be there through 2017 or 2018. No one can give us that information.”

Gee, I wonder why.

“All I can say is, it’s in Baylor’s hands now,” Collis Cobb said. “I’m hoping they want to do right by these kids.”

That’s been Baylor’s mantra all along, so I’m sure this will work out well.

Meanwhile, upon hearing the news, Roquan Smith nods his head sagely and mutters, “could have told you so…”

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Job One, June 1

Sounds like summer “voluntary” work outs are going to be considerably more regimented.

NCAA rules now allow for coaches to have limited summer meeting time with players before preseason practices.

“We’ve got some freshmen coming in, probably 14 to 20 guys counting walk-ons, that we’re going to say these guys have to get as much attention as possible,” coach Kirby Smart said. “Reps, reps, reps and reps. We got to see what we had in spring. We had 15 practices to see guys practice. And we told them, this is your opportunity to show us what you can do.”

Said Smart: “In the summer when these guys go out there, they get to be around the coaches, they get to be around the strength coaches and we want to see what they can do. We want to find out early on who can help our team. I think that’s where a lot of college coaches miss out because a freshman that comes on June 1 can pass up a sophomore or junior by midseason if you give him the opportunity. You’ve got to be able to recognize that talent and recognize that work ethic to figure out who’s going to  make your team better.”

“Reps, reps, reps and reps.”  Well, as long as they’re volunteering for it, who can complain?  It’s not like it’s a job, right?

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It’s for your own good.

Asshole Big Ten basketball coaches call player transfers “an epidemic”, want to cure the disease and insist that it’s not about them.

However it shakes out, Izzo and Beilein — as well as the other coaches in the Big Ten — emphasized they are pushing for what benefits the players the most.

“I think the problem is getting the balance right now, of understanding their needs and their rights, but also understanding what’s best for them,” Izzo said. “There’s not a coach in this building that isn’t always trying to look out for the kids’ best interest. … I could leave tomorrow and be fine. It’s not about me. But that’s just an example.

“We see how many kids leave early and don’t make it, but that’s forgotten about. Same with the transfers. Everybody wanted to transfer when they were freshmen. Hell, I wanted to transfer from a Division II school when I was a freshman but you learn how to work through things and I just think we’re missing that a little bit and we got to make sure that it is in their best interest.”

Noblesse oblige, bitchez.  Remember, kids, these guys are just here to help you.  Even if you don’t need that kind of help.

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The player strike you never heard about

Greedheads.

Two Stanford football captains sat out a week of summer workouts and meetings last year in protest over the university’s delay in providing players scholarship money, according to a recent Stanford player.

Rollins Stallworth, a Stanford wide receiver whose eligibility expired after last season, revealed the protest Tuesday while serving as a panelist at a forum by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Stallworth said the decision by the captains, whom he declined to name, happened after Stanford was late in providing players with stipends for the third straight summer.

“So we were expected to be at meetings at 7 in the morning, go to practice for three hours, go to classes for another three hours and have nighttime meetings without having our stipend or our money — with literally no compensation,” Stallworth said. “At that point, two of our team captains stopped coming to practice, stopped coming into meetings for almost a week or a week-and-a-half as protest.”

Hey, I thought those were voluntary!  (The meetings and practice, not the stipend, that is.)

By the way, you can probably guess the punchline.  The sit out got results.

In an interview after his public remarks, Stallworth said the stipends arrived about a week after summer workouts started. In the past, he said, the stipends took a couple weeks to reach players.

Stallworth, who is chair of the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said the protest might have sped up the delivery. Stanford officials were concerned about the protest and only the two captains participated, he said.

“It was a mistake, a human error on the filing of our stipends that occurred,” Stallworth said. “But the thought process was, if we’re not being compensated on our end (and) you’re not holding up your end, we shouldn’t hold up our end as well.”

Stanford athletic department communications director Alan George said via email, “The delay in providing summer school financial aid was due to problems with administrative procedures that were impacted by financial aid office processing activities and the timing of when students enrolled in courses. The matter was addressed when it occurred and procedures for providing summer financial aid have since been changed.”

Which is why you’ll see more of this down the road.  The hard part isn’t using your leverage.  It’s realizing you have leverage in the first place.

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