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A Whole New World

by Tom King

That rumble you heard yesterday were the cracks in the NCAA monolith getting bigger. An arbitrator with the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago ruled that the Northwestern University football team was free to seek union representation. The ruling means that football players are viewed as employees of the university in the eyes of the federal government.

You may think this is about paying players but this case is not. The things that the players who brought the suit will be asking for include increased medical coverage for concussions, guaranteed multi-year scholarships (so players cant be discarded if they get injured or no longer are wanted by the football team), due process rights for players charged with rule violations and allowing players to be compensated for commercial sponsorships.

Quarterback Kain Colter was one of the leaders of the movement and the arguments he and others made to the board are pretty convincing. According to published reports of the hearing  in Mother Jones Magazine and other places , the arguments that moved the needle included...

* The university profits from football players work...the school made $235 million in revenue from ticket sales, tv contracts, merchandise sales and other stuff

* Players are compensated for that work...in the form of scholarships and stipends. The decision also viewed the tender that players sign that tells them rules and conditions of their scholarship as a contract and since a players scholarship can be revoked if a player leaves the team or abuses the rules that is proof that the compensation is based on playing football.

* The university exerts significant control over players daily life...50-60 hours a week on football related activities care easily classified as a full time job.

This case is sure to head to the federal courts as Northwestern will appeal. But the NCAA's response, while condemming the ruling seemed to suggest they realize that some things need to change. They just want to do it without throwing out the monopoly they hold over college sports in thsi country. It would seem that guranteed scholarships, Increased medical coverage and commerical endorsment opportunities are legitimate grievances that could be made part of a college athletes package.

The Wausau East Lumberjacks are in search of a new football coach...again. Scott Mallien is leaving at the end of the school year to return to the Green Bay area where his family still resides. Mallien spent one year at East after replacing Steve Jung who also returned to his home are in the Fox Valley after a short stay. It will be interesting to see if the school can find a candidate who is willing to take on the challenge for the long term. The search start now according to AD Greg Harvey.

The Badgers and Baylor square off tonight in the mens basketball tournament. Should be a good one and you can hear it here on WSAU at 5:30.

Songs Of The Day  (from my I-pod)

Most Of All-BJ Thomas (1970) in the midst of his run at the top of the charts...check out that hair and that voice

Motorcycle Mama-Sailcat (1972) a classic 70's one hit wonder