With their efforts to be represented as members of a union, Northwestern football players brought into the spotlight the real issue of paying college athletes. And while the specific initiative has only a slight chance of success, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio envisions the possibility of a costly fallout for the NFL in all of this.
“If college football is going to have start paying,” Mike said Wednesday on “The McNeil and Spiegel Show” on WSCR-AM The Score, “I think college football is going to try to find ways to get money out of the NFL to create what really is that free ‘minor-league system’ that feeds players to the NFL.”
Mike, himself an attorney, suggested that the real question was how the situation defines “employee” for purposes of labor-relations law. Mike’s threshold question will be whether there is a definition of “employee” that encompasses college football players.
Is what players are receiving in the way of a free education enough to be called an employee? Is what they are generating in the way of revenue for the universities make you an employee?
“Because that’s really what it’s going to turn on,” Mike said. “Because if they’re not employees, then they have no rights to try to collectively bargain.”