Thursday, March 27, 2014

Column: The climate of Division 1 student athletes

By: kEotta houSE
Sports Editor

Just as the seasons are changing from winter to spring, the cli- mates of the NCAA are changing before our very eyes and could be changed forever in the next few months.

Since the 1950s the NCAA has coined the term student athletes. Originally the term was created to prevent student athletes from receiv- ing workmen’s compensation for injuries they receive while playing or performing that sport.

In recent years many of these players have come under extreme scrutiny for taking free clothes, free tattoos, free cars, selling their au- tograph, and selling their pictures and jerseys. Players are not allowed to make a profit off of their names or their likeness because if they do receive any kind of compensation they are no longer student athletes.

This notion of student athletes, specifically Division 1 football players, not being employees is not sitting well with many people.
Kaine Colter of the Northwestern University Wildcats football program has taken his university to court along with the College Athletes Union to get this union recognized by the university. Colter, along with the union, argues that the football players basically puts in thousands of hours in the football program for traveling, playing games, studying film, and even training camp over the summer. 

According to Sports Illustrated Magazine, Colter told the court room, training camp in the summer the athletes usually work between 50 and 60 hours a week. He also told the court that the team is not allowed to take summer classes because they conflict with the camp.
“There’s just no way around football, in fact we were only ad- mitted into Northwestern University to play football and we probably wouldn’t be here otherwise” said Colter to the courtroom, according to Sports Illustrated Magazine.

This argument about the status of the role of Division 1 athletes at colleges picks up more and more steam each year. Ed O’Bannon, who is a former UCLA basketball star, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Division 1 football and men’s basketball players. This lawsuit challenges the NCAA’s usage of current and former student athletes’ likeness and names to make a profit. O’Bannon claimed he as well as several athletes are featured in EA Sports NCAA video games while in school and long after leaving their universities. Many pundits believe O’Bannon will win his lawsuit which is a step in the right direction for cases like Colter’s.

Not everyone is for the idea of compensating players for their work on the field. Many argue that these athletes receive a “free educa- tion” and others argue these athletes receive free exposure. Some argue that both sports are male sports and because of title IX, you have to pay women athletes as well. The problem is that while a football team could make $40 million dollars, a women’s soccer team might make a couple thousand dollars. Also some critics fear that many college teams could start suing the schools to get paid and this long, winding, and slippery slope will be unleashed on the NCAA.

One thing is for sure: no matter how hard the NCAA closes their eyes and hopes these lawsuits and these talks of player compensation go away, the truth of the matter is simple--they won’t. These debates are go- ing to be here until the organization takes off their blinders and start finding a solution.

What do you think of these lawsuits and talks of compensating Division 1 football and men’s basketball players? Like us on Facebook and tell us what you think and your comments could make the next issue of The Cardinal.

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