Labor ruling on college athletes a game changer
When the “Sweet 16” round tips off tonight in college basketball’s March Madness, executives at CBS can’t wait – for the first commercial.
The annual hoops championships is not only eagerly anticipated by fans and alumni but by the bean-counters looking to cash in on the 14-year, $10.8 billion deal the network signed with the NCAA for the rights to broadcast the unpaid student-athletes vying for the Holy Grail of college sports. The college basketball playoffs now eclipse the Super Bowl in terms of commercial revenue for the event, raking in more than $1 billion in ads over the course of the playoffs. The NFL playoffs brought the networks an estimated $990 million. No other professional sports league compares.
Enjoy it while it lasts, though, because there’s change on the horizon for the meaning of student-athlete. A director of the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board ruled yesterday that athletes at Northwestern University are employees and have a right to unionize and bargain collectively.
Peter Ohr , the regional director who wrote the 24-page ruling in a case brought by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter who is turning pro, says the requirements a school places on an athlete in everything from the course schedule to accommodate practice to requirements about who they must friend on their Facebook pages in exchange for their scholarship, go far beyond the expectations of a normal student. Because football players, for instance, spend as much as 50 hours a week in practice and coaches can revoke the scholarship if they desire, the financial aid is akin to a contract.
“”It cannot be said that the employer’s scholarship players are ‘primarily students,’ ” Ohr wrote.
The ruling affects only private colleges and universities; the impact on public schools will vary by whatever state laws say about public sector unions. In Massachusetts, there will be no bar for players at the University of Massachusetts campuses to form a union if the ruling is upheld.
Boston College is the most noteworthy school that could be affected in these parts. According to the US Department of Education, BC last year earned $60.8 million in revenues while handing out $16.5 million in athletic-related financial aid, with football being the biggest money-maker and largest recipient of scholarships.
According to the DOE data, all colleges and universities in the country pulled in an aggregate $14.3 billion in revenues in the 2011-12 school year, the most recent available, while granting $3.1 billion in scholarships. All Massachusetts schools accounted for $325.8 million in revenue while doling out $77.7 million in financial aid, according to the DOE.
While it certainly takes more than athletes to put on a show – coaches’ salaries, venues, travel, meals, etc. – there are no games without someone to play them. With a fresh look at size of the enterprise contrasted with the pittance tossed to athletes who generate the big bucks, it’s hard to see how the paradigm doesn’t change. But it brings up an interesting question: If the players on a football team decided to strike before a big game, can the Delta Tau Chi intramural flag football team sub in as replacements?
State Auditor Suzanne Bump finds many failings dealing with record keeping and storage at the state Department of Children and Families, CommonWealth reports. As the Globe reports, more than two dozen registered sex offenders were found to live at addresses that matched those of foster children under state supervision.
Liquor store owners are divided on bill that would allow them to open earlier on Sundays, the Gloucester Times reports.
A ferocious, wind-whipped fire claims the lives of two Boston firefighters in the Back Bay. Friends share remembrances of Lt. Edward Walsh, a married father of three young children, and Firefighter Michael Kennedy.
While property tax bills vary widely from town to town, they share one thing: they’re all going up, according to an analysis by the Department of Revenue.
Ending the contract with the developer of the stalled $1.6 billion downtown project in Quincy will shift the burden of repaying a $30 million bond back onto the city.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh not only declares that Boston is a host community for the proposed casinos in both Revere as well as Everett, he says such a determination is solely up to communities themselves and is not something the state gambling commission is authorized to determine. Area lawyers may soon be hitting the jackpot. Charlestown residents assail Steve Wynn‘s proposed Everett casino.
Saugus loses its appeal to be designated a surrounding community to the proposed Wynn casino in Everett, the Item reports.
Rep. Nicholas Mattiello is voted Rhode Island’s new House speaker, replacing Gordon Fox, who resigned in the wake of a state and federal police raid, the Providence Journal reports.
Charlotte , North Carolina, Mayor Patrick Cannon is arrested for allegedly accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents, the Charlotte Observer reports. In the San Francisco area, meanwhile, a state senator is indicted for public corruption as part of an unfolding FBI operation on gun running, Governing reports. The Washington Post report is here.
It’s true: Cities are back!
Consumer advocates say Experian, one of the nation’s three main credit reporting agencies, is reaping millions off the Target department store data-breach by luring in victims by offering “free monitoring” then selling higher-priced products that give “a false sense of security.”
Bank of America settles a federal housing lawsuit for $9.5 billion.
Over the objections of parents and students, the Boston School Committee approved a $975 million budget that eliminates school bus transportation for seventh and eighth graders.
A UCLA report finds New York‘s schools to be the country’s most segregated.
The looming, surprise closure of the North Adams Regional Hospital has prompted calls for state intervention from health care professionals and local officials. The Berkshire Eagle calls the decision to close “indefensible.”
Cape Wind has secured another $400 million in financing, bringing to about half of the $2.5 billion needed to build the project.
Former Lawrence mayor William Lantigua and the city’s retired public works director take the Fifth in a corruption trial, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
A Globe editorial blames state judges for repeated, unwarranted acts of leniency toward accused killer Jared Remy. Yvonne Abraham says House Speaker Robert DeLeo is readying a bill that advocates for domestic-violence victims say is a big step in the right direction toward correcting problems with the way domestic abuse cases are handled.MEDIA
Nate Silver analyzes New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s blog comments about the FiveThirtyEight editor in chief and finds the comments have become more negative since he left the Times and joined ESPN.