College Football

AJ McCarron Voices Support for Northwestern Players' Attempt to Form Union

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Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2014

As the discussion regarding the framework of college athletics under the National Collegiate Athletic Association continues to stay in the national spotlight, the Alabama Crimson Tide's former starting quarterback, AJ McCarron, has gone on record supporting an upending of the current structure.   

Earlier in the week, ESPN's Outside the Lines, via ESPN.com's Tom Farrey, reported some members of the Northwestern football team are considering joining a labor union, which would mean classifying them as employees rather than student-athletes. Rather than simply getting paid by the university, the idea is for players to receive better medical protections and guaranteed scholarships in the event of a catastrophic injury.

It's a movement that McCarron is willing to get behind, per Nina Mandell of For the Win:

I think it’s a good thing for college football for someone to step up and to try get more for the players. I think eventually they need to do something like Coach Saban said (that athletes should get additional financial support beyond scholarships)… there’s so much money being made by the NCAA, by all these athletes …

[...]

It’s almost a somewhat a bad deal the players aren’t getting some of (the money) especially when the jerseys are getting sold, they’re getting used for video games. Personally I think it’s good for college athletes — hopefully down the line they’ll start getting paid somewhere. 

College sports seem to have reached a reckoning point, and there's no going back. The ridiculous sums that are spent on hiring coaches, upgrading facilities and postseason bowls and tournaments are in stark contrast to the sums that are shelled out for the actual performers.

Taylor Branch's article in The Atlantic helped to shed light on just what's going on behind the scenes and how much the system is broken.

McCarron has seen most of this for himself, as he helped to bring untold millions to Alabama as he was a member of three national championship-winning teams as a player. Rather than the players, the person who benefited the most was head coach Nick Saban, who received a contract extension reportedly worth between $7 and $7.5 million per season this past December.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide arrives at the stadium before playing the Oklahoma Sooners in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There's little doubt that it's only a matter of time before college athletes are receiving added benefits from universities.

While McCarron's words do little to speed the process up, it's admirable that he's trying to make things better for those who come after him.  

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