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NLRB Decision Sparks Student Athlete Union Debate

 

The NCAA has long denied college athletes the right to be viewed as employees, but as of late, a change in the system is looking more and more likely.

On March 27 in Chicago, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that football players at Northwestern University can legally form a union. The ruling, which came in response to a petition created by ex-Northwestern football player Kain Colter along with the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), also described the athletes on Northwestern’s football team as “employees.” This was a surprising decision that placed the power to make history in the hands of the Northwestern players, who can now form the first ever student athlete union in college sports.

The NCAA voiced its disapproval of the decision, as did Northwestern. At press time, Northwestern had yet to request a review of the ruling, but the private Illinois university has made clear that it intends to issue an appeal. Many fear that this will take the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, and will greatly postpone any resolution. In the meantime, Northwestern football players may form a union as soon as April 25, when the athletes will vote for or against unionizing under CAPA.

In the wake of the NLRB’s verdict, opinions have been divided as to whether or not student athletes should be seen as workers who can be part of a labor union. A common argument is that athletes dedicate the same amount of hours to their sport as employees do to their occupation, and also that they deserve better medical coverage and more in-depth injury testing, which a union could help secure. Moreover, USF legal studies professor Robert Elias points out that student athletes should to be rewarded for serving as a means of revenue for their wealthy bosses, their schools, and the NCAA.

“These employees are not paid for any of the income they generate, and they also have no other benefits that employees would normally be able to secure for themselves, especially if they were to unionize,” Elias said. “If the initial NLRB decision holds up, then it means that college athletes will have a basis for getting some piece of that enormous income, in exchange for their labors.”

In contrast, there are many reasons to believe that labor unions are unnecessary for college athletes. Some argue that since players already receive many benefits from their schools, such as guaranteed housing and scholarships, they should not be paid for their efforts. Others acknowledge that there may be problems with the treatment of college athletes, but that they should be solved by the team itself, instead of enabling unions and potentially reforming the NCAA’s system. Northwestern’s head football coach, Pat Fitzgerald, sees this method as the best possible solution.

“All this can be handled with communication. It’s about trust,” Fitzgerald told the press on Saturday. “I just do not believe we need a third party between our players and our coaches, staff, and administrators…whatever they need, we will get them.”

Despite the clashing opinions that have arisen from the aftermath of the NLRB ruling, some have attempted to find a middle ground. Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-12 conference, is open to an alteration in how the NCAA currently functions, but does not feel that student athletes should receive salaries.

“We absolutely should do more and I’m going to continue to push for us to do more,” Scott said in an interview with ESPN.com. “It just can’t cross that line of starting to get paid a salary or negotiating through collective bargaining. That’s a pro model, completely different.”

While it is clear that disagreement is abound and that many are hesitant to accept student athletes as employees, the reality is that by allowing Northwestern football players to unionize, the NLRB pushed us a step closer to a world where college athletes are paid to do what they do. Since the March 27 decision, multiple players from other schools have shown interest in unionizing, according to United Steelworkers member Tim Waters. If the Northwestern players do indeed vote to become a union on April 25, intrigue from players at other universities will surely increase.

The historic decision also has implications for USF and other private universities. Since the NLRB’s rulings can only cover private schools, it would be much more difficult for unionizing to be made possible at public universities, but it is conceivable that another private school could follow in Northwestern’s footsteps in the near future.

Sophomore business finance major Kenneth Lapuz is unenthusiastic about the prospect of student athletes being paid at USF.

“Going to a school where athletes are paid or are part of a union would be somewhat disastrous,” Lapuz said. “The student athletes will express no admiration for their institution whatsoever. They will merely be paid to receive an education and to play on an athletic team, not to mention the amount of power they possess since they are unionized.”

 

 

(From left) Burt Toler, Ed Brown, Gino Marchetti, and Ollie Matson were all key members of the 1951 USF football team, which went undefeated and is widely regarded as one of the best college football teams of all time. (Photo featured in 1951 Foghorn issue)

ESPN to Air Documentary About 1951 Dons Football Team

(From left) Burt Toler, Ed Brown, Gino Marchetti, and Ollie Matson were all key members of the 1951 USF football team, which went undefeated and is widely regarded as one of the best college football teams of all time. (Photo featured in 1951 Foghorn issue)

On Sunday, Feb. 9 at 4:00 p.m., the 1951 USF football team that famously refused to participate in a bowl game without their two African American players will be featured in a 60-minute ESPN documentary called ‘51 Dons. The documentary will air as part of the television network’s Black History Month Programming, and will tell the story of a team that had a legendary year, but chose to take a stance against racism instead of playing in the season’s most important game.

MatsonQuoteThe 1951 Dons squad enjoyed an incredibly successful season, finishing with a 9-0 record and ranking No. 14 in the country. In Bob St. Clair, Ollie Matson, and Gino Marchetti, the team had three players that would become future NFL Hall of Famers. USF was invited to play in the Orange Bowl, but only under the condition that Burl Toler and Matson, both African Americans, not accompany them to the game. In response to this demand, the Dons made it clear that they would not go to the Orange Bowl without their two teammates, which effectively removed them from the bowl game and ended their season.

Due to financial issues, 1951 was the last year that the San Francisco football team competed as an NCAA Division 1 sport. However, the impact of the Dons’ choice to stand by their teammates and make a statement against racism has been felt long after the end of the football program. Many of the school’s current values, such as the promotion of acceptance, tolerance, and diversity, are reflected in the football team’s decision that was made 63 years ago.

    Students who wish to view the documentary amongst their peers can attend a viewing party that will be hosted by Los Locos, USF’s spirit organization, at 3:30 on Sunday, Feb. 9 in the University Center First Floor Lounge. 

 

 

 

Eric Causey fought through illness at the West Regionals in Sacramento, finishing 11th and making history as the first men’s cross country runner to qualify for the NCAA Championships. (Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics)

A Cold Can’t Stop Eric Causey, First USF Man Ever to Compete at Nationals

Breaking school records in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter distances his freshman season wasn’t enough for Eric Causey, who is now the first men’s cross country runner  ever to represent USF at the NCAA Division I Championships.

Causey, a sophomore from Encinitas, Calif., finished 11th in the NCAA West Regionals in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 15. He completed the 10,000-kilometer course (6.2 miles) in 29:56, despite feeling ill on race day and the five days beforehand. As one of the top four finishers from a non-qualifying team, Causey earned an individual invitation to the national championship race in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23.

It wasn’t the best time to get sick, but the resilient 20-year-old didn’t let it affect his attitude toward what could have been his last race of the season, had he not done as well as he did.

“The sickness definitely made the race a lot more challenging than I had thought it would be, but I kept a very positive view on it and just accepted the given situation and

knew I would give it my best,” Causey said. “I felt like I was breathing in little needles because of how [the dry weather] felt on the back of my throat. [But] I never questioned my potential and I knew that I was going to leave it all out on the course.”

Causey will be the first male Don to ever compete in the national race, and is the first individual qualifier from USF. The women have qualified as a team for the past three  years.

“I always knew it was in reach, whether this year or in the future, so when I found out there was a huge sense of satisfaction knowing I met one of my big goals for this year,” Causey said. “I feel very honored to get to compete with all the top runners in the nation and I’m planning on this pesky cold to be gone by the time of the race!”

As a team, USF finished 16th overall out of the 27 teams in the West Region to complete their season. After Causey, redshirt junior Adam Smith was the next Don to cross the finish line, coming in at 32:05. He was followed by junior Jarrett Moore, senior Jimmy McManus and sophomore Nick Hicks who came in all within three seconds of each other. Freshman Tom Bradley and senior Gustavo Mena rounded out the Dons squad for the day. While Causey prepares for the national race, the rest of the Dons look ahead to the upcoming track and field season in the spring.

Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics

(From left) Bridget Dahlberg, Kate Jamboretz, and Elena Burkard. The three runners all finished within three seconds of each other, leading a charge that helped USF reach the national championship race. (Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics)

Dons Headed to NCAA Championships After Fourth-Place Team Finish at West Regionals

In a field of 32 teams competing for limited spots at Nationals, the Dons remained poised. No. 17 San Francisco continued its excellent season on Friday, Nov. 15 with a fourth place team finish at the NCAA West Regionals in Sacramento and earned a trip to Indiana to compete at the NCAA Championships.

USF kept its season alive by earning an at-large bid after finishing behind Arizona, Stanford, and Oregon at Regionals. Seven San Francisco runners participated in the 6,000-meter race (3.7 miles) at Haggin Oaks Golf Course, and each of them gave their all with only 43 seconds separating the entire Dons team.

Graduate student Bridget Dahlberg was at the head of the pack for USF, crossing the finish line in 21st place with a time of 20:11, a season-best among all Dons athletes. Dahlberg may have recorded the top time, but until the very end of the race, she was trailing junior Kate Jamboretz who crossed the line at 20:12. Using her teammate’s speed as motivation, Dahlberg kicked it into gear and was able to pass Jamboretz to finish just a second ahead of her fellow Don.

“I really feel like we all can run together,” Dahlberg told USFDons.com. “We do it every day at practice. So when Kate passed me, it was kind of a wake-up call to myself that I could do it — and then I just wanted to finish hard.” The depth and consistency of the Dons’ squad was on full display at Regionals, as sophomore Elena Burkard came in right behind Dahlberg and Jamboretz with a time of 20:13, good for 24th place out of 177 total runners. Soon after, seniors Eva Krchova and Maor Tiyouri completed the race in 20:28 and 20:32, respectively.
 Having numerous runners with strong times has been a staple of San Francisco’s success this season. In any given race — whether it is Dahlberg, Jamboretz, Tiyouri, or someone else — each Don is a threat to make their way to the front of the group. By getting solid times from all contributors, the Dons were, for the fifth year in a row, able to dominate the WCC and claim the conference title.

“We always have a different combination at the finish, and I think that just shows how deep we are and how good we are,” Dahlberg told USFDons.com. “I think that’s the best way you can go into Nationals.”

The NCAA Championships will take place in Terre Haute, Ind. on Saturday, Nov. 23. Head Coach Helen Lehman-Winters was proud of her group for the way they ran in Sacramento, but she is now focused on preparing for the race that will define the Dons’ season.

“We’ve been a team over the last five years that has demonstrated that we can compete at the NCAA Championships, but we’ve also come up short at this meet,” Lehman-Winters told USFDons.com. “I think we set ourselves up nicely this year. We went to the right meets, we got the job done at Notre Dame and Wisconsin, and it took a lot of pressure off us coming into this meet. It just allowed us to run well, but [to] save our biggest race for next weekend.”

Although they have certainly had a spectacular year thus far, winning a WCC title and having five runners in the Top 40 at Regionals warrants high expectations for the national competition. If the Dons hope to reverse their history of underperforming at the championship meet, then the time is now.

Men Place 4th at WCC

It was an exciting weekend for both the men’s and women’s cross country teams at Fernhill Park in Portland. The women won their fourth straight WCC title and the men finished in fourth place behind Portland, BYU, and Gonzaga.

The women: Junior Eva Krchova finished in first place for the Dons with a time of 20:35 for the 6k course. Freshman Elena Burkard was a close second behind Krchova with a time of 20:36, followed by senior Alice Baker finishing 6th with a time of 20:40, senior Laura Suur finishing 7th with 20:43, and senior Chloe Treleven finishing 10th with 20:53.

Other outstanding performances on the women’s side were made by junior Maor Tiyouri, placing 11th with a time of 20:57, sophomore Kate Jamboretz, finishing 30th with 21:39, and junior Sarah Pearson and senior Hillary Kigar, finishing with a time of 22:16 (41st place) and 22:33 (47th place), respectively.

The USF women finished first at the West Coast Conference with 26 points, while Portland finished second with 52 points, and BYU at third place with 85 points. The Lady Dons had a strong finish and won their fourth straight WCC title. With their competitive mindset and positive attitude, the Dons worked hard to achieve this victory.

The Dons ran together as a group in the top ten, with Krchova leading the way, followed closely by Burkard.

“We both ran together during this race, and kept pace with the other girls in the front. My focus was to stay in the front all the way through and then see what happens at the end,” Burkard said.

“In general, I just thought during the race ‘I want this, I can do this’. It was funny because at Conference was Laura Hottenrott-Freitag (Portland) who beat me at Nationals, and I was like ok, you are not going to beat me again. I was focused on beating her, which I did,” said Burkard.

The rain poured down during the races for both the men and the women, causing lots of mud and rain and making the race both fresh and exciting.
“I really liked this race because it was muddy and rainy, and that is usually what cross country is like in Germany,” said Burkard.

“At the beginning, I thought the course was going to be very flat and fast, but was flat with some hills and a lot of mud…then I really liked it.”
In a few weeks, the Dons will be back again for the NCAA West Regionals, and ready to compete against some of the best runners in the country.

“I’m getting into it, and it’s getting a lot more fun,” Burkard said, “I’m really looking forward to West Regionals, and I’ve only raced in three races up until now. Which, for me, is not that much because I’m used to racing more. I’m very excited.”

The men: In an exhilarating men’s race, the Dons finished fourth, narrowly missing third place by two points behind the Gonzaga Bulldogs with 105 points. Portland finished first with 32 points, followed by BYU with 33, and Gonzaga just two points ahead of USF with 103 points. Jose Madera placed 15th overall with a time of 24:21, with senior Steven Garboden finishing 16th (24:22) and senior Ganbileg Bor finishing 17th (24:24).

“The goals coming into the WCC meet was to perform as well as we could as a team and see how we compared with the rest of the conference,” freshman Eric Causey said.

“We all performed well, but we could have done better. We finished 4th in the conference with a close defeat to Gonzaga.”

Causey finished 25th with a time of 24:46, followed by sophomore Jarrett Moore placing 32nd (25:13), junior Charlie Johansen finishing 40th (25:57), and freshman Nick Hicks placing 43rd (26:13).

“This year has been a huge encouragement to do my best because all they [my teammates] have given and sacrifices made for the team. This year has been so much fun and I’m loving every second of it,” Causey said.

The NCAA West Regionals is a 10k race on the men’s side, a race that is both long and challenging. With two weeks until Regionals, the men are excited and anxious to race again.

“We are all looking forward to Regionals because it will be the race that we peak for and that means our performance will be best. It will be my first 10k and our first 10k as a team this year so it will be a whole different experience.” 

The USF men and women’s cross country teams are set to compete at the NCAA West Regionals on Friday, November 9th.

Women’s Cross-Country Place 3rd in Invitational

This Friday in Toledo, Ohio, the women’s cross country team competed at the first Toledo Inter-Regional Bubble Buster and placed 3rd in the 4K run which spanned a golf course called Ottawa Park. This invitational provided USF with an opportunity to run with seven other Division 1 teams such as Arkansas, West Virginia, Columbia, Toledo, Baylor, Ohio State, and Eastern Michigan. Currently, USF is ranked 6th in the West Region Division 1 rankings while Arkansas is ranked 2nd in the South Central Region, West Virginia is ranked 5th in the Mid-Atlantic, and Columbia 3rd in the Northeast. West Virginia entered the meet as the 19th ranked team in the country while host Toledo is the number 29 team in the most recent national poll. This meet was no easy run in the park and gave the women’s team some tough competition to run with just before the NCAA Regionals.
USF is about seven places outside of the national rankings, according the last released USTFCCA Division 1 rankings on September 20, 2011. Arkansas and Columbia were two of the teams they saw this past Friday that stood between USF and 30th place on the list. Therefore, this meet was not only an opportunity to allow the cross-country women’s team to compete hard but also an opportunity to prove that they are one of the nation’s best. The next release of Division 1 national rankings will occur on Tuesday September 27, 2011.

The women’s cross country team made a good showing in Toledo beating the host, Toledo, and also out pacing Columbia. Toledo is a ranked team as was mentioned earlier and Columbia recently received more votes than USF in last week’s national rankings. At this meet we saw juniors: Laura Suur, Sophie Curl, Alice Baker, Chloe Treleven, Hayley Niles, sophomore Maor Tiyouri, and freshmen: Katie Jamboretz and Brooke McCandless compete. The women ran strong and solid something that they lacked at the USF invitational. They showed vast improvement after their home meet in Golden Gate Park two weeks ago and will run harder in preparation for the West Coast Conference Championships next month.
Suur did well coming in 4th overall at 13:28.3. This was her first time running for the Dons and she had a great showing. Suur is a native of Estonia and has had quite an accomplished career in Europe. This year she Placed 14th in the European Under-23 Cross Country Championships for the 5k run. She also holds several national championships in both track and cross-country. Suur will definitely serve as a valuable asset to the team this season and she showed that this weekend in Toledo. Just behind Suur, Treleven finished 13th overall at 13:47.8 and Curl finished 18th at 13:55.8. These ladies had solid races and gave the USF Women’s Cross Country Team a chance at National Rankings in next month’s rankings.
The Dons cross-country team will return to action on October 7th for the San Francisco Invitational. The race will begin at 2:30 PM.