SBD/March 31, 2014/Colleges

NCAA President Mark Emmert Makes Weekend TV Appearances Tackling Union Issue

NCAA President Mark Emmert twice appeared on TV over the weekend to discuss the NLRB's decision allowing Northwestern football players to form a union. Speaking to Greg Gumbel on Saturday's NCAA Tournament pregame show on TBS, Emmert said, "The United States has got in front of it right now some pretty clear choices. Do you want to have college sports, going forward, being played by unionized employees of universities, or do you want to have them be college student who are playing games?" He added, "If the courts decide to go down a road where they create a unionized labor model, I think that is a disastrous outcome for college sports and we will see a very, very different landscape in five or ten years." Gumbel asked, "Have you been, at any time in your career, on the side of the argument that says, 'Yes, we should pay a student-athlete something other than an education?'" Emmert replied, "I've been an advocate for ... the so-called 'stipend'" (“NCAA March Madness,” TBS, 3/29). CBS' Bob Schieffer yesterday asked Emmert, "If they declared them to be employees, I guess that would mean their scholarships would be considered wages, they would be taxed?" He replied, "I assume so as well. So if you look at Northwestern, for example, the value of a scholarship, tuition fees, room and board, books and supplies that they get is around $75,000 a year, so we assume that becomes taxable. But more importantly, it completely changes the relationship from a student who is there to get an education and enjoy all of the benefits of being a student at a place like Northwestern, to being an employee. ... If they drop a ball, do they get fired? How do you recruit them? Do you hire them? Do you trade them?" Emmert added, "I think it winds up in the Supreme Court" (“Face The Nation,” CBS, 3/30).
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