BOSTON (CBS) – Forget March Madness, this right here is the biggest story in college athletics right now.
On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that football players at Northwestern University were employees and could therefore unionize. The ruling came as a shock to many as it opens up the conversation once again for student-athletes to be paid.
Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak, who were both college football players, had their own takes on the ruling on Thursday’s show. Gresh had a lot of thoughts on the whole situation, starting with the NCAA and how much money the organization actually makes.
“The NCAA tournament generates an average of $771 million a year in television rights itself,” Gresh said.
Title IX, which allows no discrimination of participation in any education program based on sex, was also brought up. Based on the ruling and Title IX, Gresh feels like compensation will be available, in some way, to all players. Gresh believes there will be some type of “sliding scale based on the revenue of your sport.”
“You can’t leave the kids, who are out there busting it for softball, or baseball or whatever … and leave those kids out,” Gresh said. “But you have to recognize that football and basketball are the economic engines in college sports.”
Zo recounted his own time in college, and how student-athletes sometimes struggled to afford everyday college life.
“I sat there and would watch six suitemates clean their desk drawers out to try and scrounge together eight dollars so they could order a Dominos pizza that they could each get a slice off of,” Zo said.
Some athletes, like those in Navy or Army, might be more deserving than other athletes, according to Zo.
“You talk about Strategic Aeronautical Warfare, these type of majors and the amount of studying that has to go in,” Zo said. “Now granted, the armed forces take very good care of you and I know that’s changed over the years. But you tell me how those kids are suppose to go play Notre Dame, compete at that same level, go back and never really have the break that the Notre Dame athletes would have, to where you can take Basket Weaving 101.
“That doesn’t fly at the Naval academy. That doesn’t fly at West Point. That doesn’t fly at Air Force. You go to all these games and you see what all these kids put into it. That’s the kid, if anything, that should be paid. Not the Notre Dame athlete. Not the Alabama athlete.”
Listen below for the full discussion and vote in our poll: