SBD/April 1, 2014/Colleges

Vanderbilt Consults Attorneys On Unionization Issue In Wake Of NLRB Ruling

Private universities like Vanderbilt are considered an easier target for unionization
Vanderbilt AD David Williams said that his department has "consulted with its lawyers about the dynamics of a union, what it might mean for the school and how to best serve students," according to Jeremy Fowler of CBSSPORTS.com. Williams: "We're in very close contact with (lawyers) to help us understand what all this means and what we should or shouldn't be doing. First thing we did." Fowler noted private universities are "considered easier targets" for the unionization movement, "at least through the NLRB, which rules on private employers." While public universities are governed by state law, Williams said that he would "feel equally concerned about unionization if he ran a public athletic department" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/31).

BEHIND CLOSED 'DORES: In Nashville, Jeff Lockridge conducted a Q&A with Williams on a "variety of other issues." Williams said of the school's year-over-year decrease in men's basketball attendance, "It’s easy to say that’s the problem, and (TV) is a factor in the problem. ... My mind is trying to figure out what people can't see on TV and then do that. ... Even though we'll have our own channel (the SEC Network) and money will come from that, I don't want to give up the (attendance) revenue." He said of accommodating the new network, "One of the big issues with us is we didn’t have fiber laid down to all of the (sporting venue) areas, and that's a big expense for us. We have fiber to the football stadium, but we don't have fiber to the soccer stadium. We don’t have fiber to the track." Williams said of efforts to renovate Vanderbilt Stadium, "We're still going around very privately trying to line up (funding). In order for this project to go, we're going to have to have a certain number of big people who get behind it and say, 'I'm going to do X-amount and I'm there for you.'" He added, "We're still in the time frame where, if everything goes all right, we can still have what we've planned to have by the 2017 season. It's hard for me to visualize it before then. There may be an outside chance you could see something before the 2016 season if you split the project up (over two offseasons), and I really don't want to do that" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 3/31).
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