What can graduate unions tell us about the future of college athletics?
It turns out some students CAN be employees
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During the NCAA Convention, incoming NCAA president Charlie Baker sat down for a quick press session with a handful of reporters. During that exchange, one of my colleagues asked Baker if there were potential ways to pay athletes directly without making them employees.
Baker said that those questions“ get way beyond, I think, where this conversation is at this time”, before adding this argument, one I’ve heard from several other college athletics leaders. You’ve probably heard it too.
“The one thing I would point out, if you're going to say that a scholarship athlete is an employee, then why isn't a scholarship trombone player an employee? Why isn't a scholarship mathematician an employee? Why isn't any scholarship person who has any kind of requirements that are put on them by the school that they go to an employee?”
I wish I had the presence of mind to blurt this out right when he said it, but some scholarship mathematicians are employees, right now, as we speak. And I don’t mean employees in the sense that there are students on math scholarships who are also working in the cafeteria, washing dishes. I mean scholarship math students who are employees doing math stuff.
Graduate student unions exist all over the country. And they might provide a few clues for what a post-employee college athletics world could look like.
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