Good evening, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.
Been a weird week, with chasing conference realignment #scoops, a sick three-year-old (she's fine, just an ear infection, but she isn't at daycare and woobuddy is she a demanding coworker), and a bunch of other stuff dropping, my publishing schedule had to be tweaked.
First, I want to let you know that we have a new episode of Going For Two out. Bryan and I couldn't find the time to link up our schedules, so I brought an old friend as a guest, Split Zone Duo's Steven Godfrey. Godfrey and I used to work at SB Nation together, and I consider his original podcast, Podcast Ain't Played Nobody as a major inspiration for Extra Points.
On this episode, Godfrey and I chat about:
- Why there are three, THREE, FBS head coach openings before October 1, and why that isn't necessarily the start of a trend.
- More time on the UConn football job than you'd expect on a college sports podcast (SPOILER: the New Mexico State job is better).
- What the public tends to misunderstand the most about coaching searches.
- How the "candidate list" and coaching search media coverage sausage gets made.
- What college coaches "know" and control, and what folks think they actually control.
- And more!
Going For Two is the free podcast home of Extra Points, and publishes every Wednesday. You can find it on Apple, Spotify, or anywhere else you happen to download podcasts.
In other news, I had this nice little publishing schedule all set up over the next two weeks. I had done the interviews, finished most of my transcription... I was feeling pretty good. Then OVC realignment happened...and then the NLRB happened.
In case you missed this earlier today, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo released a memo that states that her office will take the position that certain college athletes should be classified as employees under the National Labor Relations Act.
The memo further advises that, where appropriate, she will allege that misclassifying such employees as mere “student-athletes” and leading them to believe that they are not entitled to the Act’s protection has a chilling effect on Section 7 activity and is an independent violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.
This doesn't mean that all college athletes everywhere are now automatically recognized as employees, free to pursue back wages, workman's compensation, unionization, or other stuff that comes with being an employee. That doesn't happen with the snap of the finger. But it does, coupled with NCAA v. Alston, mean that athletes should feel more comfortable challenging their employment classification in court. Via Forbes:
“My intent in issuing this memo is to help educate the public, especially Players at Academic Institutions, colleges and universities, athletic conferences, and the NCAA, about the legal position that I will be taking regarding employee status and misclassification in appropriate cases,” said the NLRB’s general counsel.
Basically...if you want to sue, well friends, now is the time.
It's also worth pointing out that this could potentially be a very expansive argument. During the Northwestern football unionization case, the conventional wisdom was that the NLRB's rulings only extended over private universities. But Abruzzo believes this could extend to all D-I universities. Via Forbes:
In a footnote in the memorandum, Abruzzo noted that she will “will consider pursuing charges against an athletic conference or association even if some member schools are state institutions,” no longer affording public institutions protection from NLRB rulings, citing a 1986 case involving the Big East Conference, “asserting jurisdiction over athletic conference where two of nine member institutions were state institutions, because those two institutions ‘cannot control the operations’ of conference.”
Monday evening, the NCAA put out a statement that didn't really say anything beyond a defense of the status quo. The SEC released a statement indicating a desire for Congress to resolve these legal questions. Given how badly the NCAA lost in Alston, that approach seems far more likely to yield the results they want. After a 9-0 decision, the NCAA is not going to want to appear in federal court to defend amateurism any time soon.
The problem, of course, is that Congress can't pass the stuff is absolutely needs to pass to, say, keep the government from defaulting. There's no political urgency to fixing the NCAA's labor cost problem, and there isn't an obvious political constituency to craft a compromise. You have a group of progressives, like Sen. Murphy and Sen. Booker, who absolutely do not want any federal law that would prohibit athletes from being able to collectively bargain. Not only do they see that as a key plank in college athletics reform, but they also see it as a way to potentially strengthen organized labor in the South and West.
You have a smaller group, like Sen. Burr, who is out here proposing additional taxes on college athletes who make more than 20K in NIL rights (an aside...this idea completely sucks). There are few hardliners out there that don't want to give college athletes any more leverage or benefits than they already have.
But for the rest of the alleged 'World's Greatest Deliberative Body?' I'm told, by and large, they just don't care that much. There are other problems to solve, other places to grandstand, other issues where voters and special interest groups pushing harder. Some of the few members of the US House who really care about this stuff might not be here much longer anyway. Anthony Gonzalez isn't running for reelection. Emanuel Cleaver might get redistricted out of the House. There are others who may not be legislators in 2024 who are invested in this particular issue.
We're a few weeks away from the start of an NCAA Constitutional Convention, where basic assumptions about college athletics governance should be critically examined, and entire governance structures redrawn. The Supreme Court already should have sent a major message to university presidents that the current status quo simply cannot stand up to legal challenges. The NLRB just blasted another salvo. Multiple potentially significant legal challenges are already working their way through the court system.
I've been told time and time again that conferences and administrators are sick of constant litigation risks. They want to fix these problems themselves.
Well, you're running out of time. Coming back and promising change by cutting a few subcommittees and streamlining operations isn't going to cut it.
Whatever timetable for reform anybody had planned, if it wasn't expedited before, it sure should be now.
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