Larry Scott criticizes ruling on Northwestern players' union efforts

Larry Scott may be the Pac-12 commissioner, but he is concerned about what’s going on in the Big 10.

Scott weighed in on the Northwestern situation this week with an opinion piece in USA Today. The Northwestern players are attempting to unionize, an effort that gained traction when the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago defined them as “employees.”

The ruling affects football players only at a private university. The Wildcats players will vote whether to unionize on April 25th.

Scott said that the NLRB ruling was a “terrible idea” and that it would “destroy” college sports.

“There is absolutely no question that turning students into employees would take us in precisely the opposite direction that we need to go,” Scott wrote.

Scott said he was not defending the status quo.

College football players have expressed concerns, ranging from healthcare to academic support to the fact that athletic scholarships fall short of covering all expenses, while at the same time universities are reaping the benefit of unprecedented television contracts.

The Pac-12 will take in $3 billion in television money during its 12-year contract with Fox and ESPN.

Scott said he was worried about the effect the NLRB decision would have on “nonrevenue” sports as well as ensuring that the athletes remain students.

Scott made $3 million in 2011-12.

“We need to safeguard and strengthen our commitment to academics to help find the right balance, not throw in the towel and characterize students as employees,” Scott said.

Of course, some wondered whether the Pac-12 had the “student” in mind during basketball season. The television deals have increased the length of road trips during Pac-12 play, decreasing the amount of time players are in class.

“These trips are long, so there’s only so much we can do,” Arizona Coach Sean Miller said earlier this year. “It’s a difficult deal. It’s almost like we’re leaving for an NCAA tournament first and second round, or a conference tournament and we’re doing it five or six times [in a season].”

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