You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Scholarships sufficient compensation for student-athletes, some say

NLRB decision would allow athletes at private universities to unionize


College athletes should not be paid salaries or stipends because the scholarships they already receive are enough, some students at Miami University in Oxford told the Journal-News a day after a controversial decision was made that could clear the way for athletes to unionize.

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University should be allowed to form a union — the nation’s first comprised of college athletes. In a 24-page decision, Peter Ohr wrote that Northwestern is an employer and all its scholarship football players are employees who are eligible to unionize and collectively bargain with the school.

While this decision only applies to private schools, such as Northwestern, because the federal labor agency does not have jurisdiction over public universities. But experts said Wednesday’s decision is the “first domino to fall” and that teams at schools — both public and private — could eventually follow the Wildcats’ lead.

Northwestern has said it plans to appeal the decision.

National reaction to the decision has been mixed, with pro-union activists cheering it and and critics saying it hurts college sports. On the Oxford campus of Miami University, some students had strong opinions about whether college athletes should be paid to play.

Gerald Yearwood, a senior director in the office of diversity affairs at Miami, said he opposes the idea of student-athletes being allowed to form unions and possibly being paid. Yearwood is a former college athlete himself, having paid Division II basketball at Saint Augustine College in Raleigh, N.C.

“You want to play college football or college sports; you make that decision,” Yearwood said. “The university offers you the opportunity to participate in intercollegiate athletics and pays you by way of scholarship dollars.”

That form of compensation, Yearwood said, is enough.

“Most student athletes have a zero balance” when they leave the university, he said. “Regular students don’t leave with a zero balance; they leave with owing a lot of money.”

Tiara Welch, a junior at Miami University, said student-athletes “get a lot of benefits from what they already do.”

“I feel like giving them money for what they signed up to do isn’t really fair to other students,” Welch said. “They chose to be a student-athlete, and I feel that it should represent exactly what they are: student comes first; athlete comes second.”

Ohr, of the NLRB, said in his ruling that the Northwestern players “fall squarely” within the broad definition of an employee.

Under U.S. law, 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.

Miami University senior Dionte Allen said he can’t make up his mind on how to feel about this controversial issue. He said if student-athletes are compensated, it should be put into a trust and given to them after they graduate.

“They (college athletes) put in more than the average student. They wake up early for exercises, they go to class, they go to practice and everything but to get paid for what they were being scouted to anyway,” Allen said.

Miami University spokeswoman Claire Wagner released the following statement Thursday on the NLRB’s decision: “It’s important to remember that the ruling regarding college athletes as employees is being appealed, and that as it stands, it only applies to private universities. Further, every school with intercollegiate athletics has different teams, different scholarship programs, different schedules of participation. It’s too soon to say what affect the NLRB ruling may have on college athletics.”

Critics have argued that giving college athletes employee status and allowing them to unionize could hurt college sports in numerous ways, including raising the prospect of strikes by disgruntled players or lockouts by athletic departments.

Supporters of the union bid argued the university ultimately treats football as more important than academics for scholarship players. Ohr sided with the players.

“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 ruling described how the life of a Northwestern football player is far more regimented than that of a typical student, down to requirements about what they can eat and whether they can live off campus or purchase a car. At times, players put 50 or 60 hours a week into football, Ohr added.

Alan Cubbage, Northwestern’s vice president for university relations, said in a statement that while the school respects “the NLRB process and the regional director’s opinion, we disagree with it.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert has pushed for a $2,000-per-player stipend to help athletes defray some expenses. Critics say that is not nearly enough, considering players help bring in millions of dollars to their schools and conferences.

In a written statement, the NCAA said it disagreed with the notion that student-athletes are employees.

“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.

All of the big NCAA conferences, including the SEC, also disagreed with the decision.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

NEW DETAILS: Fairgrounds purchase approved
NEW DETAILS: Fairgrounds purchase approved

Montgomery County has agreed to give the University of Dayton and Premier Health $2 million if they buy the county fairgrounds and retain and redevelop the historic roundhouse. Last month, UD and Premier Health signed a letter of intent to purchase the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on South Main Street for $15 million. The institituions agreed to fork...
‘Twenty One Pilots’ rehearses at Wright State
‘Twenty One Pilots’ rehearses at Wright State

‘Twenty One Pilots’ — the hit Ohio-based band that climbed the charts last year — rehearsed its pyrotechnics display at the Wright State University Nutter Center last month, according to Fairborn’s fire chief. What to do: Visit Dayton.com for the latest local entertainment news Chief Mike Riley said the members of the...
Police: Florida man kills stepson after arguing about chili dog
Police: Florida man kills stepson after arguing about chili dog

A Florida man shot and killed his stepson Monday in a fight over a chili dog and an argument over what time it was, police said. Police said Danny Holder, 68, shot and killed his stepson, Randall Lowen, 55, in the family home in Port Orange at approximately 8 a.m. Lowen’s mother told police that Holder threatened to shoot Lowen ...
Prehistoric otter with wicked teeth, powerful jaws once roamed Earth
Prehistoric otter with wicked teeth, powerful jaws once roamed Earth

An unusual skull discovered at a dig in southwestern China in 2010 has now been identified as that of a fierce, wolf-like animal that roamed the Earth more than 6 million years ago, weighing about 100 pounds, with large, sharp teeth and powerful jaws. The newly discovered species is a prehistoric otter and an ancestor to the modern-day otter, but it...
Thief stuffs guitar down pants, makes off with stolen instrument, police say
Thief stuffs guitar down pants, makes off with stolen instrument, police say

Police in Texas are searching for a man who they say was caught on camera last week shoving a guitar into his pants and awkwardly shuffling away with the stolen gear. Fort Worth police released a 40-second video of the man, taken from surveillance cameras on Jan. 18 at the Guitar Center on Tehama Ridge Parkway. The man can be seen ducking around the...
More Stories