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College Football Players Association calls for non-employment model ahead of pivotal week

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos05/06/24


It’s a Dear Andy edition, and you have some great questions. Specifically, you have some very interesting questions about Deion Sanders. 0:00 Intro - Opt Outs, State of CFB 7:38 Introducing On3 - Her with Talia Goodman 22:00 Dear Andy Intro 24:10 Deion Sanders and Colorado 45:32 Coaches Hired to Win Championships 59:47 Group of 5 to Power 4 Transfers Idea 1:03:35 4 New Conferences to Pick New Teams 1:06:42 Nick Saban's Retirement 1:09:50 G5 School to use in EA Sports? 1:14:04 Conclusion But first, we’re very excited to introduce you to Talia Goodman. Talia is On3’s newest hire, and she’ll be leading the HER vertical. While a student reporter at Indiana University, Talia realized there wasn’t a transfer portal news-breaker covering women’s basketball, so she worked to make herself one. Now she’s the best in the game, and she’s bringing her talents to On3. Andy and Talia discuss how the women’s college game can capitalize on the moment it’s having currently, and Talia identifies the stars who will try to fill the void now that Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and company are off to the WNBA. Now, it’s time for your questions. Once again, Coach Prime and his team dominate the conversation. Will Shedeur Sanders' tweet clapping back at a former Colorado player hurt his chances to win awards? Would it affect his draft stock? How much longer should we reasonably expect Deion to be at Colorado? Given the discussion of the way Sanders handled cutting players and the back-and-forth between former and current Colorado players, what should be considered acceptable when managing a roster? Andy often talks about college football jobs where the job description is simply “Win the national title.” How many of those jobs are there? Which schools? Who does Andy plan to play as in Dynasty Mode when the new EA college football game debuts?

As settlement talks heat up in the House vs. NCAA lawsuit – which could see the college sports governing body owe something in the neighborhood of $2.9 billion in back damages – questions surround how the possible arrangement could be implemented.

Only two options are viable: Congressional assistance or a collective bargaining agreement. Both would help the NCAA stave off further lawsuits and retribution.

Sources indicated to On3 that this week could provide the first glimpse of what Congress’s role might look like. Since Charlie Baker was named the NCAA’s president more than a year ago, he’s lobbied lawmakers to pass legislation that would preempt state laws and create an agent registry, among other items.

One item the NCAA has long sought after is an antitrust exemption. Major League Baseball is currently the only sports entity in the United States with a general exemption from antitrust law. The exemption would guarantee the NCAA would no longer face a growing list of lawsuits.

Sources are expecting a new bill tackling NIL and possibly House v. NCAA to be introduced this week, whether it’s on the floor or in the form of a discussion draft. Roughly seven bills have been introduced in the last 18 months or so, yet none have picked up much momentum. No bill tackling NIL since 2020 has even made it to a vote.

CFPA calls for new model

News of the possibility of legislation comes as the College Football Players Association (CFBPA) called for a new model for college sports on Monday morning. Jason Stahl, the founder of the association, outlined in his newsletter a hybrid model enacted by Congress that would not classify athletes as employees but set the framework for collective bargaining.

The idea is not novel. Outgoing Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick discussed something similar to Yahoo Sports after a legislative hearing in October. The veteran athletic leader called for the model so universities could recognize athletes’ rights to negotiate into a binding agreement.

Athletes.Org (AO) founder and chairman Jim Cavale talked about the same outline in July 2023 at SEC Media Days when he was on the Paul Finebaum Show. The membership organization is not a union but has signed up roughly 3,000 athletes since its inception in August. UAB became the first D-I football team to sign with AO last week.

“To get this type of ‘special status’ for college athletes, one which stops short of employee status but gives extensive protections and collective bargaining rights, you would need Congress to enact new legislation,” Stahl wrote Monday morning. “We at the CFBPA now believe that such legislation is worth exploring – particularly after current ongoing antitrust cases against the NCAA, the conferences and the schools are settled in a way that is fair for athletes.”


Stahl and his board of directors plan to lobby lawmakers in Washington, D.C., later this week for legislation that would encapsulate the bargaining model without employment.

Will Congress take direction from NCAA?

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats have long fought over the exact items included in bills addressing college sports, specifically if athletes should earn a share of revenue or be classified as employees. Democrats have leaned toward a split of revenue and health and safety assurances, while some Republican-led bills include language making sure athletes would not be classified as employees.

Baker has been involved in settlement talks for the House lawsuit. For nearly anything discussed to be put into action, Congress or collective bargaining would have to be put in place. For example, a $20 million salary cap on revenue sharing per school could be taken to court without Congression protections or a previously agreed upon bargaining deal.

All of this comes in a divided political climate. Republicans control the House, and Democrats control the Senate. The presidential election is slated for November, roughly two months before the House vs. NCAA lawsuit is slated to begin.

Add on that a roughly 40-day deadline has been put on settlement talks and the summer is typically when Congress takes its recess, time is ticking for a resolution to be passed.

“Increasingly, as we talk with current athletes on multiple football programs around the country, there does not seem to be an appetite for these types of legal battles over formal employment, unionization and collective bargaining,” Stahl wrote Monday morning.