Pushback against college player unions begins in Ohio

By JULIE CARR SMYTH | AP Published:

COLLEGE

Pushback against union movement begins in Ohio

COLUMBUS -- State pushback against a movement to unionize college athletes has begun in Ohio, the football-loving heart of a heated anti-labor campaign in 2011 and home to one of America's highest-grossing collegiate franchises, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

A measure approved by the state House on Wednesday, two weeks after a federal agency said football players at Northwestern University could unionize, clarifies that college athletes aren't public employees. The proposal appears to be the first of its kind to clear a state legislative chamber; it heads next to the state Senate.

The opposite is happening in Connecticut, where lawmakers are looking at clearing the path for college athletes to unionize. Some observers, though, think other states are more likely to follow Ohio's lead.

The National Labor Relations Board official ruled March 26 that full-scholarship players at Northwestern University in Illinois are employees and therefore eligible to unionize. The university has appealed ahead of a vote by the athletes April 25.

Northwestern athletes leading the effort say they simply want a seat at the table since they have so little say on injuries, insurance, finances, scheduling and other aspects of their sports.

Federal labor law is in play at Northwestern because it's private, but states control policy at public universities -- including giants such as Ohio State, Florida State, Michigan and Alabama, whose athletic programs generate millions in annual revenue. Federal data show Ohio State's athletic department generated $123 million in revenue last year, sixth-highest in the country.

FOOTBALL

Notre Dame putting turf in stadium

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame will break with tradition and replace the grass surface at the stadium known as the "House Rockne Built" and install artificial surface before the upcoming football season.

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the university would have preferred to stay with natural grass, but said field conditions in recent years made the change necessary.

"I was looking for a way to see if we could still do it, but I reached the conclusion, between the end of last season and this that we really couldn't," he said.

Among the factors that went into the decision were the university holding commencement at the stadium in recent years, which he said has made it harder to maintain good field conditions, and a proposed $400 million construction project that call for buildings to be added on three sides with the goal of getting more use out of the facility.

BASKETBALL

Louisville guard Ware will transfer

The stepfather of former Louisville guard Kevin Ware says the player is transferring to Georgia State.

Wesley Junior told The Associated Press that the 6-foot-2 junior verbally committed to the school after visiting the Atlanta campus on Saturday. Ware announced last month that he would leave the Cardinals to be closer to family in the area.

Ware's decision comes a year after he sustained a gruesome right leg injury in the Midwest Regional final against Duke. The injury made him a sentimental figure in the Cardinals' run to the NCAA championship and an instant celebrity.

Ware recovered enough to make his regular-season debut Nov. 15 against Cornell and drive for a basket on his first touch. However, lingering problems from the injury limited him to nine games.

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