6 College Football Teams Most Likely to Unionize
By the end of this week, college football as we know it might cease to exist. Not only is the NCAA about to transform, but Northwestern players will vote to unionize Friday.
Regardless of the outcome, the genie can't be put back in the bottle for the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) and its sponsors at the National College Players Association. The unionization movement will move on from its prime target, and the focus will turn to the other 16 private schools where the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision will have standing.
Of those 16 schools, who is ripe for organizing and saying yes to a union?
Let's explore six other of the biggest targets of the unionization movement.
Northwestern may have been the target most ripe to test the unionization movement, but there's one state that should also be just as friendly: California.
The Golden State is not a right-to-work state, making access to a unionization movement on a campus much easier. Of all the schools in California, Stanford makes the most sense to take on the unionization movement.
After all, if Northwestern is the "Stanford of the Midwest," why not attempt to unionize the actual Stanford?
The athletes there are also smart, do care about their education and could be persuaded to help change the college football landscape for the players. Not only that, but the campus has a long-standing history of being unique.
If there's a school likely to be the next target for CAPA, look to Stanford to be that school thanks to its campus culture and the state's laws regarding unions.
As we continue to look to schools that will be likely targets for the unionization movement, we move from the West Coast to the East Coast and Chestnut Hill.
That's the home of Boston College, and the school also happens to be in a very strong union state. Massachusetts is also not a right-to-work state, which makes forming a union and getting everyone on board much easier.
While BC hasn't been a football program with much in the way of national attention in the past decade or so, it could be a good place for CAPA to look at pushing the union movement in college football.
However, the campus climate might work against the movement as BC is seen as a conservative campus in a liberal town. That means the CAPA movement could be in hostile territory among the student and alumni population.
That notwithstanding, the political climate in the state should make Boston College one of the biggest targets to form a union.
The ACC is home to a few of the bigger private schools in college football, and it just happens to have two members in states without right-to-work laws.
After looking to Boston College, the folks at CAPA can move on to Syracuse.
Located in upstate New York, Syracuse meets all the requirements to build a union movement. The state is easy to form unions in, and the school would have to abide by the NLRB ruling that would classify college players as employees. Syracuse also features a high-profile athletic program.
In fact, the movement is not only looking at unionizing college football players but has been considering working with college basketball players. What school is bigger on the East Coast in basketball than Syracuse?
Not only will CAPA have a chance to form a union for college football players at the school, but they could test the waters on the basketball side in a high-profile way.
Sorry ACC, but your makeup of large-scale private schools makes you a prime target of CAPA. It's something that is sure to worry ACC Commissioner John Swofford as another big target for the union movement could be Miami (FL).
It's one of college football's most recognizable brands, and to say it has a history of eccentric players is putting it mildly.
Recent history also suggests that at least some of the players are looking at the Northwestern case very closely. Earlier in April, guard Jon Feliciano made a case for the Hurricanes to unionize to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
I think so. If it starts turning out good at Northwestern, people would start doing it here. But if nothing really happens, no one will follow. We have a lot of wild personalities on this team, so there’s a bunch of people that might try. It’s not my main focus right now. But if we do start a union, I would not be opposed to it.
Feliciano points out the one problem that could complicate unionization: the different viewpoints of the wild personalities on the team. Florida is a right-to-work state, and no one would be forced to join the union.
Miami would be one interesting test case for the union movement in right-to-work states.
We're back on the West Coast after moving up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, but this time we're in sunny Southern California.
CAPA's biggest and perhaps most interesting target could be the Trojans of Southern Cal. After everything the school has been through with the NCAA and the recently completed sanctions, it's safe to say there's some animosity on the part of USC.
What bigger thumb in the eye than for the team to be one of the first to unionize under the NLRB ruling?
USC players aren't exactly the most conservative in nature to begin with, and you have the perfect mix to get a union going given California's political climate.
If USC forms a union, it could be the spark that ignites the rest of the private schools to make the move as well. This school has the power to be the real game-changer in the union movement if it goes forward.
There isn't a name more synonymous with rebellion against the NCAA than that of Southern Methodist University. Just pop on ESPN's 30 for 30 called "Pony Excess" to see just how rebellious the Dallas-based campus can be.
It's not as if the Mustangs have a history of not doing what they are told and marching to their own beat or anything.
Given the hiring of June Jones as football head coach and Larry Brown (hoops' ultimate nomad) as basketball head coach, clearly the school isn't afraid of a bit of controversy in an effort to bring winning football its way once again.
Being able to have a union (and the benefits that could come from it) would be a huge recruiting tool against the likes of Texas, Texas A&M and other public schools in the state.
SMU and CAPA just seem like great partners in the movement. The only question is if a union would actually work in a state where no one is compelled to join or pay union dues.
*Andy Coppens is a national college football featured columnist. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndyOnCFB.
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