The topic of student-athlete compensation isn’t going away.
The National Labor Relations Board on March 26 ruled Northwestern football players were free to unionize. They determined players were employees of the university in the first of many rules sure to come from this hot-button issue.
It comes as former athletes sue the NCAA for the use of their images among other issues.
Alabama coach Nick Saban weighed in after Monday’s practice in Tuscaloosa.
“I’ve always been an advocate of players’ rights. I’ve always been an advocate of players being compensated the best that we can to help them,” Saban said. “Whatever the NCAA rule is and whatever they decide to do, I’ve always been an advocate of the player and the quality of life that a player has. I think that having a voice in what happens, I think, is something that the players probably ought to have.”
“And I’m really not opposed to that at all. I do think that it’s not what it seems.”
Former Alabama walk-on and current Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn’t a fan of the unionization idea for college athletes.
“We’ve got enough entitlement in this country as it is,” Swinney told The Post & Courier. “To say these guys get nothing totally devalues an education. It just blows my mind people don’t even want to quantify an education.
Saban never fully stated whether he supported the idea of athletes and the idea of collectively bargaining.
But he touched on the benefits that aren’t counted into the cost of the aid athletes receive.
“It would be interesting to know how much … everybody knows what a scholarship is worth,” Saban said. “That’s pretty easy to figure out. But to do on a per-player basis, what we invest in the player to try to help them be successful. We spent like $600,000 last year on personal development programs.
“All things that directly affect the player having a chance to be successful. I can’t even tell you what our academic support budget is, trying to invest in a player and what is the value of him getting an education and graduating from school here? Not just the value of the scholarship. What’s the value of him getting an education?”
The average athletic scholarship cost $23,200 for an in-state student and $36,950 for out-of-state recruits, according to Alabama’s NCAA financial report. Total athletic aid totaled $11.1 million for 2012-13.
Alabama right tackle Austin Shepherd didn’t do too much research into the unionization talk.
“I’m not going to answer that,” he said when asked about it Monday. “No comment on that one.”
Career development is part of the package, Saban said.
“How much do we actually reinvest in quality of support staff to help develop players that may have a chance to go on and play at the next level, have great college careers, have a chance to win a championship,” Saban said. “Pretty significant budget around here, that if you look at it, it really is invested back in the players.
“I don’t think that the players just receive a scholarship. I think a lot of players really realize that, understand that and appreciate that. We can’t pay them but we can reinvest in trying to help them be successful in their future, which I think we do a marvelous job here at the University of Alabama. I think a lot of people do. I think that’s what makes great programs. I think that’s why players want to come and be a part of the program, because we do reinvest in the future and their chances of being successful, and we do care. And it’s not just about football.”
This article is republished with permission from Michael Casagrande. The original article ws published in AL.com can be viewed by clicking here.