Scott discusses unionization movement

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
6:40
PM ET
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott joined "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" Friday to discuss the National Labor Relations Board's ruling that Northwestern's football players can unionize.

Scott and Cowherd touched on a variety of topics, including the potential negative effects on women's athletics, whether the athletes currently have enough time to devote to studying and redefining amateurism.

Listen to the full interview here, or read some of the highlights below:

[+] EnlargeLarry Scott
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsPac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, like other college athletics leaders, is concerned about unionization affecting smaller sports.
On the Northwestern ruling: "Really surprised that student-athletes would be in a NLRB director's view 'employees.' It so radically changes the relationship between student-athletes and their universities in a way that I don't see as positive.

On if all Pac-12 football programs make money: "Certainly. Football is very, very popular. Men's basketball is as well. There's no doubt about it. I think the same could probably be said for most of Division I from a football perspective, but those resources are being used to support lacrosse and women's volleyball and soccer and is completely tied to the educational mission."

On what the surplus money from football and men's basketball is used for: “The money that is generated is invested back in student-athletes and programs and enhancements for fans and making sure the programs are successful going forward. What would happen -- in my view -- if this unionization effort or these pay for play lawsuits are successful and you had to go down this path with football student-athletes and men's basketball student-athletes, what it would do is take all the resources that are available for these other sports away and that would be a big concern from my perspective. You think about women's sports and the advancements that have been made under Title IX. You think about the importance of college sports for the Olympic movement and how these kids are working just as hard as football players and basketball players and they really value the opportunity and the access it gives them to unbelievable educations. That would really be the real shame of all of this if it would up, in our conference for example, being able to support 7,000 student-athletes across 35 sports to some amount dramatically less."

On how Title IX would be affected: “It's hard to say exactly how Title IX would apply in an employee-employer relationship or if it would apply at all, but -- and again I don't want to paint an extreme example, when I don't really know where it'll go -- there's only two sports that people would consider successful with the revenues that it generates. Any unionization effort that I've ever seen in pro sports, it's not just about health care and work conditions, I mean they're going for a big slice of whatever's available and I just can't envision any scenario under which the unionization of athletes is going to benefit women's athletics at all. I don't know what Title IX will protect and won't protect under this new regime. What I do know is very few government policies have been as successful as Title IX has been in terms of creating access and opportunity for women and I am sure that women are going to suffer greatly in terms of access and opportunity if this unionization effort is successful.”

On if athletics prevents student-athletes from pursuing challenging majors: “That's not our experience, not my experience. We've got student-athletes graduating with chemistry, and engineering and architecture. I really don't subscribe to that … there's no question there's significant time demands and commitments if you want to be the best at anything that you do, but that's not just about football players and basketball players."

On if amateurism needs to be redefined: “I agree with that and I think that's where this needs to go. I think we need to redefine what amateurism is as part of an educational or collegiate model. I've been an advocate for reform within the NCAA system. There is room to do more for student-athletes and health -- stronger restrictions on time demand, covering the full cost of attendance. But what amateurism is, it shouldn't exceed what's the full cost of actually attending. They should not be paid compensation to play. They shouldn't be seen as pros. They're there as amateurs, they're there as students and athletics are a really important part of what they're doing, but they are students primarily and we absolutely should do more and I'm going to continue to push for us to do more. 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.”

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