FORT WAYNE, Ind. (NBC33) - The discussion of college athletes wanting to be paid is nothing new, but athletes from Northwestern University are taking it to a new level.
Earlier this week, members of the Northwestern football team had a petition filed on their behalf asking to be recognized as employees of the university so they could form a union. Their top priority was receiving health benefits and monetary compensation.
The problem with that, according to the NCAA, is that student-athletes voluntarily play their sports and are in no way an employee.
So while the formations of college athlete unions is likely far off, it has started a conversation at a number of college campuses across the country. Even here in Fort Wayne.
"If that were to happen I would think, 'OK as college administrators we need to get together and see what the impact of that would be," says Mike McCaffery, Athletic Director at the University of Saint Francis. "Is it just the NCAA? Is it just NCAA Division 1? Is it just football? Is it just revenue generating sports?' Most sports out there in the NCAA don't make money. So which student-athletes is this going to benefit? Those are all the questions that if this does progress down the road, at that point we'll see what we need to do to react."
McCaffery thinks the biggest reason student-athletes are fighting for monetary compensation is because they feel the education and scholarship perks they receive from the university are just not enough.
"Why do they feel they need to get paid? Because they feel the value of their education isn't enough of a trade-off. If they looked at it and said, 'l'm getting four years of free education. I get to walk out of here with a degree from Northwestern or Stanford or Notre Dame or wherever it might be, then what are they arguing for? If they feel that it's fair, if they feel the value in what they're getting and the university values athletics the way they tell their student-athletes that they do, then there is no confusion."
McCaffery is confident that his student-athletes at St. Francis truly value their education and the idea of unions forming at the NAIA level is not something that concerns him at this time.
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