Saturday Night Rights: Longhorns Make Argument For NCAA Union

  • David Young


When a National Labor Relations Board arbitrator said NCAA athletes had a right to organize and engage in collective bargaining, some thought, “Those greedy, spoiled athletes!” Others said, “About damn time.” The week in University of Texas football makes a strong case for the “About Damn Timers.”

The Longhorns are starting the Charlie Strong era, giving him five millions dollars to coach a team that is yet to take an official down for him. Yes, Strong has been overlooked for years, likely because of his race, and is well-qualified for his new job (what he did at Louisville was insane). But throwing Nick Saban money at him BEFORE he’s coached a game for Texas is nuts.

And speaking of Saban, according to advance copies of a book by Paul Finebaum and Gene Wojchiechowski, Texas wanted to offer him “somewhere between a $12 and $15 million signing bonus and a salary package worth $100 million (plus performances).” Okay, now keep that in mind for the next part of the Texas Offseason Highlights Reel.

free is reporting that the school self-reported to the NCAA that two of its players accepted a free meal from an agent, which could result in their suspension, or even the loss of their eligibilities. And I get it, it’s not about the cost of the food, but the conflict of interest and the chance for buying influence. And heck, even the NCAA is now offering to feed its athletes for free. But the outcome is the same: two players may not be allowed to play – or even kicked out of school – for accepting less than a hundred dollar’s gift, while their coach makes seven figures.

Players should be punished for breaking NCAA rules, but the rules are a bit out of touch. A coach wins his championships by having twenty year olds take hits on the field, risking life and limb, but only the coach sees the real fruits of the labor. So as the NRLB gets ready to hear an appeal on the arbitrator’s ruling, the disparity between the treatment of the Sabans and Strongs and the treatment of their players may top the scales in the athletes’ favor.

David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated and is now one for Follow him on Twitter @turkeysflying.