Through unionization, there are some things that the Northwestern University football players are hoping to bargain for. One of these things is healthcare coverage to cover injuries when they're not at official games or practices. The health insurance they receive doesn't extend beyond when they leave the school and many players who are no longer playing and don't go pro, are in terrible economic straights because they don't have health insurance covering continuing problems, says Amy McCormick, Professor at Michigan State University's College of Law.
The players are also wanting to extend scholarships beyond their eligibility to play. Right now, they get scholarships while eligible and if they leave and try to go pro and don't make it, they want to be able to have the opportunity to come back and get their degree. "It would be great if universities did that for their former athletes," says McCormick, which might provide more of an incentive for them to care even more about their education.
Down the road, McCormick says the players may ask for pay for play. Right now, they can't ask for that incentive because that would violate NCAA rules but if athletes at other schools organize, they can start asking their schools to lobby within the NCAA to change the rules. College sports is a multi-billion dollar industry and "very little value goes to athletes who put everything on the line to generate this and it would be nice to see more balance and get some money out of this," McCormick says.
McCormick thinks that the NCAA is using scare tactics by saying this would ruin the NCAA. She thinks that they don't want to give up control and power they have over the athletes and they want to not only continue to make money but they don't want to share it. "The idea that this would destroy college sports is ridiculous," McCormick says, adding that it would improve college sports by making it more honest.
The NCAA has also suggested that non-revenue sports, like tennis and soccer, would go away because the money that comes from football and basketball is used to fund those other sports, says McCormick, adding that at division 2 and 3 schools, without money coming in from football and basketball, they've managed to keep those other sports going. In fact, school Presidents have said these other sports add value to the campus experience and that's why they keep them. "It's kind of a doomsday scenario to suggest those other sports would go away," explains McCormick.