The notion that college athletes are employees could turn the entire NCAA landscape on its head. Taxation, of both athletes and athletic departments. Eligibility issues. Title IX issues. Public school/private school issues. Division I/lower division issues. Calling athletes employees ushers in chaos.
But universities have only themselves to blame. Schools have cultivated the culture of college athletics to reach the current summer system of voluntary (but actually mandatory) workouts with staff members who aren’t designated as coaches but have rampant power to make or break an athletic career. I don’t think college athletes are employees of the university. But I can understand the rationale of anyone who declares such.
If a union does materialize – and we’re a long way from it, since the NCAA will fight to the death to prevent it – and salaries become an issue, then the current system won’t survive. Maybe the NCAA wouldn’t, either. That’s when you could see major schools, like in the Big 12 and SEC, pull out and start over.
But if the union does what its organizers say it wants to do, improve the rights of athletes, maybe push for the cost-of-attendance stipend that has been close to implementation anyway, ensure that athletes aren’t exploited, the current system could survive. Maybe even thrive.
All it would cost is taking from coaches and administrators a little power, maybe a few bonuses and the idea that offering a free education gives you the right to treat people wrong.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.