Are unions coming to the NCAA?

A panel of administrators says the NCAA must change:

Many athletic departments are flush with cash thanks to multi-million dollar TV deals. Conferences have started their own networks, and coaches’ contracts continue to soar.

Now athletes are demanding their fair share.

“The landscape as we know it for Division I is going to certainly change in some form or fashion,” DeBauche said.

While DeBauche sees the current crisis as an opportunity to make college athletics healthier than ever, the panel also agreed the question now is how to do that.

“We have to have 21st century solutions,” Barnhart said. “We didn’t get to this problem overnight.”

A regional National Labor Relations Board official cleared the way recently for football players at Northwestern to form what would be the nation’s first union for college athletes. Northwestern has appealed the ruling, and the NLRB currently is weighing that appeal. The NCAA and the Big Ten Conference also oppose the ruling.

Northwestern players will vote April 25 on whether to form a union.
DeBauche said difficult conversations loom in the coming months. There’s a gap between the top five conferences with the big-money deals, and she said the majority of the 32 conferences in Division I are more like the OVC. Money made by the conference goes back to members to pay bills. The conferences also need to protect non-revenue generating sports and meet Title IX requirements.

Other NCAA business:

The NCAA has voted to expand the meal allowance for athletes, after Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier complained last week that he often goes to bed hungry for lack of money to buy food. I wonder if this would have happened so quickly, or at all, it it had been one of the UConn women who had brought up the issue.

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