Golden Nuggets: Larry Scott Says Treating College Football Players as University Employees is a "Terrible Idea"

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

The Pac-12 Commissioner says that classifying football players as employees is a "terrible idea" that could lead to the elimination of many collegiate Olympic sports.

After not discussing the issue much, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has chosen a side in the debate over unionization of Northwestern's football players. He is vehemently opposed and made his case in a USA Today column.

The decision last week by a National Labor Relations Board official in Chicago to upend collegiate athletics by characterizing Northwestern University's scholarship football players as "employees" is a terrible idea that will do nothing to improve college sports and may well destroy them.

Yes, those are strong words. And let me be clear — I am not defending the status quo. The Pac-12 Conference, of which I have been commissioner since 2009, along with other conferences around the country, have been pressing for NCAA reform that would reflect the evolving needs of student-athletes, allowing for increased academic support, improved student-athlete health care, and enhanced athletic scholarships up to the full cost of attendance. I am confident reform is coming within the NCAA in the next few months, and soon universities will be allowed to provide this additional support for student-athletes.
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Right now, for technical legal reasons, the ruling only applies to the sport of football and private universities, but the misguided thinking that produced it might be applied to other sports and public universities as well. And because the "revenue" sports at most universities support the "non-revenue" sports – including sports such as baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball, swimming, and tennis (which I played while a student at Harvard) — the entire world of intercollegiate athletics as we know it could shrink dramatically because of a lack of resources. Women's sports could be hit particularly hard, which would be a real travesty given all that we have achieved over the last 40 years since the advent of Title IX, especially because it is unknown how "employee" status would intersect with Title IX.

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