Pay to play debate continues - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Pay to play debate continues

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It could be a real game changer for college athletes concerning the debate over pay to play.

The Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board says that football players at Northwestern University have the right to unionize, and bargain collectively.

Several factors played into this decision including the reasoning behind it, the amount of time each player devotes to their sport versus academics. 

Many believe this is only the beginning, and that more universities will start seeing similar cases. I think this has the potential to completely change the landscape of college athletics.

Darin White, sports marketing program coordinator at Samford University, a private university like Northwestern says, calling student athletes 'employees' opens up Pandora's Box.

"For example, their scholarships would now be 'taxable' income. If you had a player who left or was "fired" he or she could possibly receive unemployment benefits. There's a number of issues that haven't been thought out very well I think."

Rick Davis, is a practicing attorney as well as a former University of Alabama football player.

Davis warns more universities should prepare to see similar arguments and cases regarding 'pay to play.'

"This issue isn't going away. There are so many lawyers out there and the lawyers are what's driving this," says Davis. "I think just like you had the students at Northwestern who went to the NLRB, what'll happen in the states is you'll have players filing lawsuits against the universities."

Davis sees the NCAA having to deal with two realities.

"One of two things are going to happen, the NCAA and the schools are going to delay this as long as possible. They're going to appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court, or, I think the more practical thing for the schools and the NCAA is to sit down and work out something to accommodate some of the demands and concerns that the players have."

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