UM's Haslam Talks About Northwestern University Labor Efforts
Northwestern University football players are trying to change the current landscape of college sports, and the role student athletes play for their respective universities.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago ruled football players at Northwestern University are employees, and therefore can unionize, which is the first step for the student athletes who are seeking a multitude of things from compensation to health care, but does it have any bearing here in the Treasure State?
"I think in the short term there really is no impact for here at the University of Montana," says UM Athletic Director Kent Haslam.
The Northwestern players hope to be part of changing the landscape of the current NCAA model, but Haslam says things are quite different from the BCS landscape and the FCS.
"I believe our model, especially at the FCS level and here at the University of Montana really is student-athlete. We haven't gotten 10-20 million dollar television contracts that generate that much revenue where we can start dividing those things up."
One issue the Northwestern student-athletes are petitioning for is four year scholarships. Right now, across Division-1 athletics, a scholarship is only guaranteed for a year, and several big schools have revoked scholarships when players aren't contributing on the field, which Haslam says is rare at a school like Montana.
"It's not a common practice for us to be operating in the same way that some of the 'Big-5' conferences are operating in."
Another issue the Northwestern players cited was having to change their majors to accommodate practice schedules.
"We certainly do have student athletes that end up getting into majors that we have to work around. We have student athletes spread across most of the majors on this campus. If there's a student athlete that is really wanting to go into something specific, all of our coaches work as hard to accommodate that," says Haslam.
While Haslam admits it is the first step in many more before the current student-athlete system sees any changes, he says it's important to remember it's a ways away from having any bearing on the Big Sky Conference schools.
"This ruling really is only between Northwestern and the Northwestern University football player. The National Labor Relations Board does not have jurisdiction over public universities. This is something that happened at the private school level, but certainly will have a ripple effect I would think," says Haslam.