“Amateurism is not a moral issue; it is an economic camouflage for monopoly practice.” — Walter Byers, Executive Director of the NCAA, in his book entitled Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
“Classifying student athletes as employees threatens to fundamentally alter college sports, as well as reduce education access and opportunity”, said Chairman John Kline announcing that he has scheduled a hearing “Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes”.
“America’s colleges and universities are the best in the world. But it is simply unacceptable that they become havens for rape and sexual assault. It is time to take this crisis head on and end the scourge of sexual assault on our college campuses, hold offenders accountable, and keep our students safe. These are not cases of dates gone badly, of a misunderstanding about whether she said yes or no, these are actually brutal crimes committed by recidivists and predators,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
acknowledging the U.S. Department of Education reporting that in 2012, New York State colleges and universities reported 365 forcible sex offenses.
On the subject of that 55 colleges and universities are under investigation for their handling of sexual assault complaints — silence from Chairman Kline.
NOTE: The White House task force found that nearly 20 percent of female college students have been assaulted, but that only 12 percent of cases are reported. It concluded that many women feared that their reports might become public, discouraging them from coming forward.
Second District Minnesotans must wonder about John Kline’s priorities … why expend congressional funds to fight the NLRB when the issue is still being reviewed by the full NLRB. After all, the the regional director of Chicago’s branch of the NLRB ruling was for one “private” school. The vast majority of Division I universities are public — 109 of the 126 in the Football Bowl Subdivision — and the N.L.R.B. has no power over them, only over private-sector employers like Northwestern.
Well, Chairman Kline explained “The committee has a responsibility to thoroughly examine how the NLRB’s decision will affect students and their ability to receive a quality education.”
That’s a load of hokum, pure hooey, bunk, … actually this is John Kline being John Kline … anti-worker … and the idea of a “union” is just too much to contemplate.
Yet, Chairman Kline could have addressed this before … he could have joined Bobby Rush (D-IL) and John Conyers (D-MI) when they held a congressional forum on November 1, 2011 addressing college sports and the impact on student-athletes.
Was Chairman Kline concerned when last December, Graduate teaching and research assistants at New York University voted 620 to 10 to affiliate with the United Automobile Workers ? Julie Kushner, a U.A.W. director for New England and eastern New York, said the vote was so one-sided because the university, unlike many employers, remained neutral and did not campaign against unionization. Matt Canfield, a doctoral student, predicted that the improved conditions resulting from a union contract would make the university’s graduate programs more attractive to students. The main motivation … healthcare.
But let’s talk NCAA sports.
First, the NCAA is a monopoly … oh, sure the school announces that it has awarded a “scholarship” to a “student-athlete”.
Sounds good … until you understand that according to 2012 federal graduation rate information, only 47% of NCAA Division I men’s basketball and 57% of football players graduate within a six year window of time.
The “student-athlete” signs on the dotted line and then, immediately are waving their personal freedom to transfer to other schools.
And they really don’t get a free ride …NCAA rules allow athletic scholarships to include tuition, room and board, and some books. Expenses that are allowed for
academic scholarships but are prohibited from inclusion in athletic scholarships may include books that are recommended but not required, school supplies, transportation to and from school, and other basic necessities.
And it may not really be a “four year ride” as many schools offer a one year, renewable scholarships.
As such, athletes may be vulnerable to losing their scholarships for a variety of reasons such as the inability to produce because of injury, failure to perform as desired on the field, and/or a change in coaching staff or coaching philosophy.
Take the case of Kyle Hardrick, a basketball player who played a total of 6 minutes during his two seasons with the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Team doctors diagnosed him with a torn meniscus in his knee and wrote down on practice logs that he should be held out because he was hurt. “My insurance does not cover all of Kyle’s medical bills,” Valerie Hardrick said. “The University of Oklahoma refused to pay for Kyle’s surgery, his rehab, and his medication. The university actions also allowed Kyle to be released without appropriate medical treatment before consulting his original surgeon.”
Or, the case of Gardner Webb captain and quarterback, John Rock. Following a head coaching change, Rock alleges that he was stripped of his scholarship by a newly hired head football coach in violation of promises made to Rock to the contrary. Rock asserts that the previous coach had promised that Rock would retain his scholarship as long as he maintained his athletic and academic eligibility. Rock’s alleged troubles arose after starting an internship required for his academic program in the spring of 2010 which necessitated missing a few practices. According to Rock’s account, the new coach viewed the player’s absences as evidence of a lack of commitment to the team, providing grounds for the scholarship to be withdrawn.
What is the issue that the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) want :
— Guaranteed coverage for sports-related medical expenses for current and former players.
— Minimizing the risk of sports-related traumatic brain injury. Reduce contact in practices like the NFL and Pop Warner have done, place independent concussion experts on the sidelines, and establish uniform return to play protocols.
— Improving graduation rates. Establish an educational trust fund to help former players complete their degree and reward those who graduate on time.
If Chairman Kline was truly concerned about student-athletes, he should be pushing the NCAA to reform and address these problems … not waging a war against the NRLB. The reality is that the NRLB is powerless against public schools.
Now, to the question of rape … it’s one that Chairman Kline is familiar with … because of statistics reported during discussions of the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (which John Kline failed to get the weakened version he preferred approved) and military sexual assaults.
The Pentagon’s annual report on sexual assault, was released on Thursday, indicating more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault in fiscal year 2013, a spike of 50%. … which is still underreported as only 11% of sexual assault victims in the military report the crime. That compares with estimates of 22% to 41% of sex crimes reported by civilians.
And it isn’t just active military … but our veterans are suffering. Two veterans advocacy groups filed a lawsuit this week alleging that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is discriminating against survivors of military sexual assault when it decides whether to grant disability claims.
Sexual assault is a real problem — In 2010, there were 84,767 reported rapes in the United States — but that is not an issue on Chairman Kline’s Agenda.