According to Southall, college athletes in revenue sports — football and men’s basketball — are treated as a separate class of citizens and deserve the ability to negotiate their compensation because of the large amount of money they bring into universities.
“We’re perfectly okay compensating the players — those in power simply want to decide the compensation,” Southall said. “What I would love to see is an athletic administrator or coach say, ‘I am not going to negotiate or have any ability to negotiate my compensation. I’ll just take an education.’”
Brian Shannon, a law professor at Texas Tech University who is the school’s Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA, said while athletics are a major part of a student-athlete’s campus experience, they are also going to school to try to earn a degree.
He doesn’t think athletes should be considered employees.
“I think that it would turn collegiate athletics into something more akin to another level of professional sports, and that’s not what they’re about. It’s about education as well as athletics,” he said.
In a written statement, Meghan Durham, a spokeswoman for the NCAA, said the NCAA strongly believes that student-athletes are not university employees. She believes scholarships help student-athletes receive educations that benefit them long after their playing days.
“We want student-athletes — most of whom will never make it to the professional leagues — focused on what matters most, namely finding success in the classroom, on the field and in life,” she said.
Jonathan Weiler, director of undergraduate studies for UNC’s department of global studies, was one of 25 professors who signed the coalition’s statement. He said he did so because he believes college athletes, including those at UNC, are treated unfairly.
“I support the basic idea that athletes in the profit sports, at UNC and elsewhere, in basketball and football, are fundamentally being exploited in the sense that they’re getting far less than they should for their efforts, given how much money they are making for their universities,” Weiler said.