By Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
What exactly is a student-athlete? Here at Asbury, the designation of student-athlete isn’t a heavy term. We have plenty of students that participate in a sport, and many receive some type of scholarship bonus for doing so. At Asbury, and other schools like it, very little money is generated by athletics.
In sharp contrast, an NCAA division one school, like University of Oregon, is expected to bring in nearly 200 million dollars through their athletics program according to USA Today. During their time at school, these student-athletes will be milked to make that kind of revenue possible. Student-athlete’s likeness and talent is the reason that schools like University of Texas can make upwards of 60 million dollars off of rights and licensing alone.
For many student-athletes, some of the money they generate will be given back to them in the form of scholarships. For those playing sports like football or basketball, it’s likely that these scholarships will completely cover the tuition costs of their college education. But is that enough?
At Northwestern University, some athletes believed that their contributions to the school should grant them the status of university employees. This was backed up by a decision made last year by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is “an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.”
What Northwestern athletes hoped to do was use their status as university employees in order to form a union and collectively bargain for improved working conditions. When this motion was brought in front of the full board, the NLRB refused to make a ruling, killing the movement, for now.
But this isn’t the end of it. Elsewhere, former athletes are speaking up in order to get fair compensation where they feel they were taken advantage of by their universities and the NCAA. Earlier this summer, a judge ordered a 60 million dollar payout to any athletes that had appeared in any of the NCAA’s series of football and basketball video games that were published by Electronic Arts. While the schools payout from the game was relatively small, an average of $75,000 to the top universities according to Forbes, players were not originally entitled to any compensation.
Student-athletes are under more pressure to be athletes than students at the NCAA’s division one schools. Despite this, the “athlete” side is never really compensated. The main worry for the NLRB was the issue of “stability” across the entire landscape of college athletics if players were allowed at certain schools to unionize and collectively bargain. But with no official verdict being laid down, and student-athletes’ growing concern over fair compensation, expect the issue to continue coming up for the foreseeable future.