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These athletes are now going to be considered employees…

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
The Truth Network Radio
February 6, 2024 4:00 pm

These athletes are now going to be considered employees…

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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February 6, 2024 4:00 pm

Matt Brown, Extra Points, uses examples of what we’re looking at and this new world of paying athletes.

What were Matt’s thoughts on the Regional Director and her ruling? Is this not only about money, but also control? How is this going to impact the sport, especially moving forward?


So yesterday, the National Labor Relations Regional Director ruled Dartmouth men's basketball players, in spite of a 5-14 record, 1-5 in the Ivy League, to be employees. And when we hear that, we talk to Matt Brown, publisher, Extra Points, the newsletter, you should check it out, as well. There's a lot to digest here. First, just your overall thoughts on what the regional director had to say and why did she say it? I think one of the most interesting arguments in the actual ruling was this idea here that we've written about a fair amount on the newsletter, but I don't think it's really sunk in with the public.

But this idea that one's employment status is not dependent upon profitability or even revenue that's generated, right? Like a popular complaint here is like, guys, Dartmouth basketball sucks. This team hasn't made the tournament since the 50s.

They're terrible even by Ivy League. It's like a 10-palm 330 team. And the attendance is, you know, 700 people a game, right? A good high school game in the triangle is going to outdraw that easily. Yeah, we had about 115 for my kids' middle JV high school game.

Yeah. I mean, we don't need to be like High Point to outdraw this. And there's very little TV money involved. And the guys don't even get scholarships.

So if you were to hypothetically drop an example of a Division I program that's very clearly not big-time college sports, this would be one of the best examples, I think. And the NLRB director said, listen, while that's true, they still do get compensation. Like, you know, these players get more, get the value from just the shoes and coats and t-shirts and like Nike equipment is more than they would make at the cafeteria in a semester.

You get preferential treatment, I mean, admissions to Dartmouth, you get extra training. And just because the enterprise loses money, if you're treated like an employee, you're still an employee. Just like if you were at a hypothetically at a radio station that was losing money for three years in a row, you're still an employee of the radio station.

It's just a failing business or a newspaper, right? So I think that that's really important here, because if you read that memo and you cross out Dartmouth men's basketball with North Carolina field hockey or New Hampshire soccer or Long Beach State Baseball or virtually any program in any sport in Division I, I think it's largely the same. And as the NCAA is facing now numerous legal challenges to the employment model, I think people need to realize here that we're looking at a much more expansive definition than just football, basketball and the Power Five.

Matt Brown from Extra Points, the newsletter, is joining us here on The Adam Gold Show. And here's the interesting thing, by the way, I think we're doing fine here at this radio station. So we don't want people to, I'm just kidding.

Speaking hypothetically, of course, not about any, you know, anything in this market, which I'm sure is sterling. Okay, so this really is very wide reaching. And every time I have talked about specifically the big finances in college sports and we've recently been talking about the lawsuit filed by the Virginia and Tennessee attorneys general toward the NCAA. And, you know, this is all surrounding using NIL as a recruiting inducement at Tennessee. We've always said this, that at some point, the courts are going to declare the players employees.

So I've been working that in to every conversation because I believe it to be true that we are going because it's not just about a payment. And you point out a lot of the free stuff that are given and preferential admissions and extra help in academics. And you can miss this exam because your team is traveling all of the things that athletes get that the general student body doesn't. But it's also about control, isn't it control over your schedule control over the classes you can or cannot take that that also kind of folds into this, right? That is actually the single biggest key factor. And this is the biggest differentiator on, you know, been people on social media say like, Oh my gosh, if, if Dartmouth basketball players are employees and surely the marching band is or the student newspaper or the other things.

And it may be in some specific cases, the answer might be yes to some of those, but the level of control for any division one program far outstrips that for any other extracurricular. And I think a good example is, Hey, here's the itinerary on a road trip to Princeton, right? You've got to get special permission to go get a haircut. You have to be, you know, you, you can't go out on the town. You, you can't sleep in a different place or eat in a different place. Like you, you have this very prescribed itinerary for legal adults. And the school says, no, this is for safety, but you know, the court says, you don't do that from literally anything else.

If you're traveling to present at an undergraduate research conference, you don't have that level of structure. And so the choice that college sports is going to have to make and potentially even down to division two and division three is we either need to be prepared to pay and operate in an employee model, or we need to be prepared to not treat athletes like employees. And that calculus is going to look different at state versus high point versus Winston-Salem state versus somebody in division three. But that's essentially the choice, even if it's not going to happen instantly as a result of this decision. I think you, I think you pointed out, cause I read the newsletter today.

I'm pretty sure I got it from you that the Dartmouth like student handbook reads very similar to an employee handbook. And by the way, if it's a safety issue, I wasn't aware that it was like the barbers of central Jersey, uh, or a dangerous place to go. Um, so what's going to happen now, right? Well, you know, you never know.

Uh, I mean, I've gotten my hair cut, but I don't have a hair anymore. So maybe that was, I can trace it back to that, uh, in central Jersey. So the, the next step is Dartmouth is going to appeal. They already announced that they're going to appeal the ruling. I don't know how long it's going to take, but in the interim Dartmouth's, uh, basketball players have already said, we're going to try to get an Ivy league men's basketball union. So they're going to, they're going to go through that, uh, that process. What does that entail? How long till one gets finished? Will the unionizing get finished before the appeal is heard?

Yeah. My, my understanding of this process, and I still have a couple other phone calls to make about this year too, but my understanding is that, you know, Dartmouth, their players can have a vote, uh, into a union vote before the appeals are finished, right? They can go through that organizing process. They're not going to start getting a w nine, um, and, or, you know, payroll tax being collected until all the appeals are done and everything's certified, but they can hold the vote and they can begin to try and reach out and organize chapters elsewhere. Um, one of the challenging things about college athlete labor organization is that it has to really be done by the students. That's not something that, that friendly academics or the SEIU professional staff or anybody else can really do for them.

Um, it is going to be about person to person conversations. And even the people at Dartmouth are going to have to rely on their peers at Brown and at Cornell and Princeton, uh, to have those conversations with their teammates. And the tricky thing, right with, uh, with the basketball unionization effort is it's all 12 dudes on the roster.

So you don't really need that many nay votes for the thing, not, not to happen. So I think, I think projecting timelines is tricky because like, I'm not going to sit here on, on, on God's internet and tell you that I know exactly how Brown basketball players feel about this. Like it's, it's, it's hand to hand combat. Matt Brown is joining us here on the Adam Gold show real quick, um, college football players association. There's an, there was an organization, Jason stall, who was a former professor at the university of Minnesota has been on this program, uh, before, um, how does, how might he, I know that's specifically about major college football and that, but how might he fit into all of this or remote at the, uh, remote? Yeah. And it's actually a very, a very, I think important question because what remote is trying to do when Jason trying to do are really, I think pretty organizationally different ways to achieve the same goal, right?

What Jason believes. And for what it's worth, what I believe too, is that the best pathway forward is to have a membership driven organization driven by players who decide what happens. Right. And part of the problem with the college football players association right now is that they don't have dudes, right? The bulk of that membership right now, one it's the whole thing's pretty small. And the bulk of the membership are people that are no longer current college football players, whether they're either alumni or they're activists or they're high school players. Um, and, and the people that are going to push for action are going to be the actual players in the room. And it's much harder to organize a football roster in the, in the power five, because one, it's a big roster and with 85 people, their needs and their interests are not necessarily aligned, right? Again, kind of taking things back here to maybe this market, if we're looking at just say hypothetically NC state, there might be 10 guys on that roster with 15 guys on that roster who could realistically say, we aspire to be day one or day two draft picks, or we, we, we, we really think, you know, based on if we go through the combine process that we're likely to have an NFL career, you know, somewhere in that neighborhood. And there's going to be a third of that roster that are going to end up being extremely buff dentists and real estate agents.

And that's not an insult. It's true everywhere in the country and there, their long-term interests may not be aligned. That's a big problem. That's a part of why the NFL players association can have kicked in negotiations here. Now, and you add that to people who are 20 to a very, very transient world where many of them may not come from union homes, that organization efforts going to be very difficult.

And that is, I think a potential concern. If you're on a player advocate, moving to an appointment model and a collective bargaining model, which you don't have the labor power is a great way to get destroyed at the bargaining table. And that's been the case in the professional sports generally for their first few contracts.

Yeah. You bring up the NFL and then I just throw it in the side here. Um, if they were willing as a group to give up a year, a year of salary, they could win at the bargaining table, but they're not as a group because 70% 70% of NFL players need the paycheck, which I would, I mean, it would be very difficult for me to give up a year of salary. Uh, I would also be giving up a family maybe.

Uh, so we'll, let me, I have two, two more quick things that I want to get to before we have to let you go. Uh, one, this is an unintended consequence because if you look at, I was going to say just Olympic sports, but if you study, if you look at men's and women's college basketball, there is an enormous international influence here. And, uh, that's going to be impacted as well, simply by declaring them employees, regardless of what is negotiated. Correct. That's absolutely right.

And I've talked to a handful, there's not that many of them. I've talked to a couple of immigration attorneys who specialize in athlete thesis. And the concern right now is that if you are competing in college sports on a student visa and you are deemed an athletic employee, you could lose your student visa. There's very strict rules about what kind of employment you can have on that visa.

Right. And simply participating in division one sports in most cases is not going to be sufficient for you to get a special, you know, athlete exempt visa, right? Like, you know, if you, if you play on the, on the Denver Nuggets and you're a citizen of, uh, of Spain, you can get this visa, but if you're an ideally basketball player or a big 10 football player, you won't get it. Like you have to be an international class athlete.

And so when you get into, you know, this is a loophole that can be fixed at the federal government level and lawmakers generally are not very interested in addressing that right now. But yeah, and that's even a case of Pacific and Dartmouth. They have multiple guys here who I believe are international athletes. And so like that, that is a, that is a risk, particularly in sports like tennis, like swimming, men's basketball, where 20% of your love, your, of your labor pool may not be from the United States.

If not more the golf teams, man, the golf teams in the triangle, they're loaded with international players. Final question. Um, if we do get to collective bargaining and we're probably a long way away from that, does it automatically mean salaries? I don't think it necessarily does.

Right. You know, if you get to collective bargaining, really everything's on the table. And if you talk to athletes now, um, about what their biggest concerns are, and, and you can even hear this from talking to the Jason Stiles of the world, it usually isn't as much about money as it is about controlling your working environment about making sure you can study what you want to study to make sure that you're protected in case you tear your ACL, that you don't lose your scholarship automatically. If your coach decides to go to a different school, money is, is part of that, but it's not necessarily the biggest thing. Uh, if anything, I think there's a legitimate chance when we get to collective bargaining, that the majority of athletes, whether it's football or all sports ended with the worst deal that they have right now. I think that's on the table, but could you see a world where, you know, both sides collectively negotiate non salaries in exchange for changes to X, Y, or Z? Yeah.

I think that's potentially on the table. Matt Brown, you should check out the newsletter. You can subscribe to it.

I actually think I subscribed to it again, uh, just a second ago by accident. Uh, but I'll, I'll, I'll check and make sure they're not double charged, but for everybody else. Yeah. I mean, it's schools all over this market. It's spread by eighties all over this market. It's read by reporters in this market. Uh, I think if you're listening and you didn't and you didn't, you know, change the channel after that conversation, I think you'd probably like it too.

And look to me, it's the most fascinating thing going on right now. There's a Superbowl I'm told on Sunday. Uh, I'll get to it.

Then Matt Brown, extra points at Matt Brown EP on Twitter. Thanks, man. Appreciate it. Yeah, you bet. Thanks, man. Take care.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-06 23:44:33 / 2024-02-06 23:51:05 / 7

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