Student-athlete or employee?
How should players at your favorite college or university be classified?
There’s sure to be plenty of discussion — and litigation — over this point after a federal agency ruled last Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University can create the nation’s first union of college athletes.
Regional director of the National Labor Relations Board Peter Sung Ohr said in a 24-page decision that the players “fall squarely” within the broad definition of employee.
Under U.S. law, The Associated Press reported, an employee is regarded as someone who, among other things, receives compensation for a service and is under the strict, direct control of managers. In the case of the Northwestern players, coaches are the managers and scholarships are a form of compensation, Ohr concluded.
“The record makes clear that the employer’s scholarship players are identified and recruited in the first instance because of their football prowess and not because of their academic achievement in high school,” Ohr wrote. He also noted that among the evidence presented by Northwestern, “no examples were provided of scholarship players being permitted to miss entire practices and/or games to attend their studies.”
The goals of the players at Northwestern include guaranteeing coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former players, reducing head injuries and potentially letting players pursue commercial sponsorships.
The Northwestern case deals with private schools. The federal labor agency does not have jurisdiction over public universities.
It is easy to see, though, that the idea could spread throughout the country.
Could we one day see what has happened in professional sports, strikes and lockouts?
Is it possible that scholarship athletes, who devote a tremendous amount of hours virtually rear-round if they are to succeed, get in position to receive more than a paid-for college education?
“We frequently hear from student-athletes, across all sports, that they participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the love of their sport, not to be paid,” the NCAA said in a statement.
That may be true, but it’s no secret about how major college athletics has become a huge business. Coaching salaries of millions of dollars annually are now routine in the major sports. Football and men’s basketball lead the way, and they generally must generate enough revenue and interest to support entire athletic departments. There is $18 billion just in television rights for the NCAA basketball tournament and bowl games.
It’s the players’ performance that generates that money.
Is that performance worth more than the value of a scholarship?
More cases are on the way.
One, filed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, is scheduled for trial June 9 in California. O’Bannon, who led his team to the national championship in 1995, sued after seeing his likeness without his permission in a video game licensed by the NCAA.
Former West Virginia University running back Shawne Alston has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and the five major conference saying they violated antitrust laws by agreeing to cap the value of an athletic scholarship at less than the actual cost of attending school.
Change, in this atmosphere, is sure to come to college athletics.
“While improvements need to be made, we do not need to completely throw away a system that has helped literally millions of students over the past decade alone attend college,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Finding a way to be fair to athletes while continuing to provide a wide range of sports will be a tremendous challenge that will likely take years to accomplish after being ignored much too long.
Student-athlete or employee?
State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core
It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.
Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
- Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer
Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
- More Opinion Headlines
- State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core