Collegiate athletic unions cause problems; students look toward future health benefits

Paying student-athletes for playing in their particular sport has been an issue for the NCAA for several years.

According to a New York Times article, “a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled March 26 that a group of Northwestern University football players were employees of the university and have the right to form a union and bargain collectively.”

Several instances have occurred where different athletes have received payment or gifts for their performance on the field.

One of the more notable occurrences of this happening was during an investigation a couple of years ago at the University of Southern California.

Student-athletes at USC violated NCAA rules on receiving gifts The investigation found that former Heisman winner and current Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush and former USC guard and current Milwaukee Bucks guard O.J. Mayo forfeited their amateur status by accepting gifts from agents.

The women’s tennis team was also punished for unauthorized phone calls by a former tennis player.

As a result of the NCAA’s findings, USC faced one of the harshest punishments ever dealt to a Division I program.

Bush was forced to forfeit his 2005 Heisman trophy, which is awarded to the top college football player during the season.

The football team was forced to vacate is final two wins of its 2004 national championship season as well as all of its wins from the 2005 season.

It was also banned from bowl games in 2011 and 2012 and was docked 30 scholarships over three years.

In June 2011, the Bowl Championship Series stripped USC of its 2004 BCS national title.

The basketball team gave up all of its wins during the 2007-08 season and sat out postseason play in 2010.

Last season, current NFL draftee quarterback Johnny Manziel accepted money for signing autographs.

His only penalty was sitting out the first half of the first game of the season against a cupcake team.

After this, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said players cannot make money on their names but the NCAA can make money off a player’s name.

He pointed to the NCAA selling jerseys of players in the NCAA’s website store.

He said if one searches for Manziel’s name, his No. 2 Texas A&M jersey pops up.

A penalty was handed out this season for former UCA linebacker Justin Heard giving left over scholarship money to his brother so he could get textbooks.

Heard was handed a three-game suspension.

The NCAA is not afraid to crack down on student-athletes that accept gifts or extra benefits.

The NCAA rulebook defines an extra benefit as “any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletic interests to provide a student-athlete or their relatives/friends a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. Receipt of a benefit is not a violation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s student body (relatives/friends) determined on a basis unrelated to athletic ability.”

This rule is pretty straightforward, but what happens when a judge rules in favor of a student-athlete union for a university?

If one follows collegiate sports, they know the NCAA generates billions of dollars a year but student-athletes are only repaid in scholarships and healthcare benefits.

As far as I know, this only applies to private universities, which includes schools like Northwestern, Stanford University, Duke University and USC.

These student-athletes will be able to set up a collective bargaining agreement, allowing them to attempt to be paid for participating in athletics.

This would be similar to using a work study to get paid.

The move will complicate things within the NCAA because they have always Been against paying student-athletes.

This is not just a cry for athletes to get paid or extra benefits, but it is more of a ploy to get healthcare benefits after playing for the NCAA

If student athletes do not continue playing their sport after their college career, they will see no healthcare benefits if they have symptoms from injuries of their sport. They would have to take care of it themselves.

An example of this would be, a football player suffers several concussions during their college career, but symptoms do not show up until later in their life. That player would have to pay out of pocket for any neurological symptoms they have.

One might say, it was their choice to play.

That’s true, but that’s not much different than a construction worker going in to his job and getting hurt. He will be able to get benefits there but the athlete will not.

Then there are pay issues. How would the NCAA regulate how much will be paid to certain athletes?

Football and basketball are the money makers for the universities, so the universities will have to add up all the revenue from the sports across the board and split it up evenly.

If this is not met, students from other sports will demand more pay. It will be a never ending spiral of who can gain more power.

The only thing I can think of doing is setting up a pay scale where freshman across all sports are paid the same amount, then the money increases as the student-athlete’s classification changes.

Just like other unions, student-athletes will be able to go on strike if their demands are not met.

If this occurs, it will ultimately hurt both sides. The NCAA cannot generate revenue and the student-athletes will not get money or will more than likely get overlooked for the professional sports because they missed time.

This has not reached state schools yet, so UCA is not affected right now, but that time could come.

Only time will tell how well this will work, but the only thing we can do now is sit back and watch what happens.

People of UCA: Caleb Patton

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