The NLRB decision in Chicago that says that the Northwestern Football team can vote to form a union is going to cause major changes in college athletics. Yes, the decision will be appealed and will hit the actual court system, but the tide is against the NCAA and it's member institutions. From where I sit, the largest will be the elimination of the NCAA. I will get into that, but first the smaller changes, but they aren't small at all.
One of those changes is going to be more conference realignment. I can see where the 5 big conferences decide to eliminate private institutions from their conference. After all, the NLRB has jurisdiction over private institutions. And why would a conference want 14 public institutions which are run by the states and 2 that are private that would require the conference to pay money that they could otherwise pocket. So Northwestern might be shown the door. And just think about what Notre Dame is going to experience. The biggest private institution of them all and their lucrative NBC contract will become an albatross around their neck.
Another is going to be coming to the student-athletes themselves. You think that institutions are going to sit back and incur more expenses because of the ruling that athletes are employees? Think that the training tables are going to be free and a part of the business of having a football team? Think that the schools are going to pay for free room and board when each and every player will have a set amount of money coming out of school? Of course not. The athletes will have to pay for every little extra just like a regular student. At the end of their time at the school, they will have a nice fat bill that they will have to pay. And guess where they will get the money? The funds that have been set aside for them.
The ruling is going to go beyond football and men's basketball. You are going to have athletes in other sports deciding that they want a piece of the pie. Although the Women's Wrestling team might not bring in as much as the Football team, they will ask for the same rights and priviledges. And if the school says no, then we have a labor dispute and a lawsuit in the court system that might come to fruition by the 20 year anniversary of the filing.
The final point before the dissolution of the NCAA is the Title IX problem. You need to have the same benefits and amount of scholarships for women in sports as men. So if those men are shown as being employees and get the benefits of that, guess what has to happen? They need to have the same thing as the men. So instead of just paying the big revenue sports, women's lacrosse is now getting a cut of the action and let's be real here. A school's Board of Trustees aren't going to look favorably on having to fork out all that money. And it might be time to look at the feasibility of having sports as part of the institute of higher learning of your choice.
Now to the NCAA. Imagine if the plans of the major conferences come true. The SEC, Big 10, Big 12, ACC, and PAC-12 have had conversations about leaving the NCAA and forming their own group. There were 26 athletic departments that made money in 2012. I am assuming that those 26 are included in the conferences listed above. I do believe that they will form their own group. Not just for football as had previously been reported. But it will cause the NCAA to try and come to grips with their money making schools not there anymore. Imagine a Rose Bowl between Marshall and New Mexico. Or a Championship Game between Connecticut and San Diego St. in football. You know that will not fly. Or take out the big boys from the March Madness. No Kentucky, Florida, UCLA, Texas or anybody from the conferences listed above. Gonzaga would be a #1 seed almost every year.
In the end, the people that get hurt the most is the athletes. Yes there needs to be reform for college athletes. But starting to pay athletes or offer them contracts to play at a University is not the reform that we need. But that is what the athletes want and they are pressing forward with it. It will cause the death of the NCAA in my opinion, but in the long run the athletes will get the short end of the stick because of the restriction of opportunities that they will have to prove themselves on a field or court of the sport that they love. And for that, they will have to thank the athletes that want to be known as employees of colleges and the unions that they made to try and get benefits that they believe they deserve like health benefits after they leave school and the ability to attend school after their eligibility is over for free.