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April 10, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-10

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 10, 2002 - 5

Football team discussed benefts of oining
the CAC with coach Lloyd Carr ast year

Continued from Page 1
signing onto the CAC, but the idea was even-
tually dropped.
"We have a contract with Nike, and the
Steelworkers are opposed to Nike. It was a
big, long, complicated thing," said former
Michigan defensive tackle Kurt Anderson. "It
wasn't the right time."
The idea was discussed by players at a
full-team meeting and then discussed with
football coach Lloyd Carr.
"At the point where they met with me, that
was really my first knowledge that there was
such an organization," Carr said. "One of the
issues that we discussed is that there are a
number of organizations that want access to
student athletes, and many times they have a
self-interest. Anytime those issues arise, you
need to look at what they are involved for."
Carr said he supports some of the CAC
initiatives, but expressed reservations.
"One of the fundamental issues in terms of
intercollegiate issues is that basically, the
revenue sports - football, basketball and
hockey - pay for and support all of the
other sports," Carr said. "If one of their
objectives is to say that the student athletes
are employees of the university, I think that
would be the end of intercollegiate athletics
as we know them. I think there are some
issues that I'm supportive of that I hope the
NCAA will take up, in the area of long-term
disability insurance, and certainly in terms of
medical coverage throughout the year."
When the players met again after speaking
to Carr, a preoccupation with the upcoming
season and concerns about the untested
nature of the new group took precedence.
"Some people were for it and some people
were against it. We didn't want to do any-
thing to jeopardize our eligibility," former
inside linebacker P.J. Cwayna said.
"It was (the players') decision not to do it.
Not becaus e pedidn't want to do it. Football
goes year-round, there isn't really a time to
do it," Anderson said. "I don't know how
they got it done in the PAC-10. It'd be a nice
thing to see, not just for football but for all
sports. This is a billion-dollar industry, and
we get $800 a month - that's basically what
you have to pay for rent. ... It's tough to live
in Ann Arbor on the amount of money we get
on scholarships. For guys like me and other
guys who were a lot smaller when we got
here, you spend $10 a day just eating to keep
the weight on."
Anderson and Cwayna both said being a
Division I football player is a year-round job
and that voluntary, preseason practices are
seen as anything but.
"It's supposedly voluntarily, and we don't
get any money in the summer. (Stipends are
received only during the school year.) We
want to stay here and work out with the
team," Anderson said. "Everybody does stay

here, and you're basically on your own."
"Everyone's going to be there," Cwayna
said. "I don't think there's a kid across the
country who doesn't feel like they shouldn't.
... Division I athletics, it's a year round
thing, and to play at that high level you need
to be training for 12 months."
Anderson also addressed money troubles.
"You're taking out loans when you're on
scholarship. This kid is going to have to pay
back money when he's done just because of
the sport he's involved in. The least you
could do is let us work our own football
camp. ... Every other sport in the NCAA,
they're allowed to coach their summer camps
and they're allowed to get paid. We can't
work the Michigan football camp and get
paid for it. It doesn't make much sense, espe-
cially when (football) is the main revenue
sport for most schools.
"You're looking at a third of the team that
are non-scholarship players, and you're
telling me a non-scholarship player can't
work in the off-season and make a little
Anderson did qualify his statements.
"I never want to make it seem that the
football team is complaining about what we
get and what we don't get, but I think there's
a lot of people who don't realize everything
that we put into a season," he said. "There's a
different expectation at Michigan, and aca-
demically you're challenged like every other
student and you don't have the same hours as
another student."
Carr said no players have approached him
this season about the issue. Huma said the
CAC has no plans at present to recruit at
Michigan, but no school is ruled out.
'... the Steelworkers bring us closer
to change.'
The CAC has been aided in its recruitment
by support from the Steelworkers, whom
Huma approached when he decided to start
the coalition.
"It's going forward. The PAC-10 is top to
bottom," said Tim Waters, the USWA liaison
for student athletes. "It's a group of people
who are being exploited by a corporation."
Huma is careful to differentiate between
the union and the coalition, and said that
fears of players striking are unwarranted.
The Steelworkers are aiding the CAC with
their public relations, as well as "support and
organizing counseling, access to their legal
team, as far as bouncing things off the legal
team, and they've picked up the operating
expenses for some of the former players and
helped us set up the website," Huma said. "I
think the NCAA is a little bit nervous
because with them behind us, we're a little
more legitimate. The NCAA fears change,
and I think the Steelworkers bring us closer
to change."
Waters said the Steelworkers will provide
support for the CAC indefinitely.

"If I'm the NCAA, I would be worried.
What they better be worried about is that
their customer continues to question them,"
Waters said. "In the past they've been able to
silence athletes that stand up, knowing that
they only have to silence them for four or
five years and they're gone."
The NCAA said it would meet with CAC
representatives after a piece on the coalition
aired on the CBS show "60 Minutes" in Jan-
uary. But members of the NCAA's Student
Athlete Advisory Committee later decided
against a meeting, citing reservations about
the Steelworker's involvement.
"We think that we are the appropriate body
for the student athletes' concerns," said
Michael Aguirre, a former Arizona State
University wide receiver and chair of the
NCAA's Student-Athlete Advisory Commit-
tee. "The CAC is a student athlete body
being organized by the United Steelworkers,
which I don't think has the knowledge to be
involved in intercollegiate athletics."
"I think part of the support for the CAC is
due to some misinformation," said Aguirre, who
is now a graduate student at Arizona State. "I
don't think that we have a perfect system, we
need to do a better job of educating student ath-
letes, but I think that would be best done through
the body that we already have."
Aguirre questioned Huma's assertion that
the CAC is not a union.
"They're asking for a player's association.
That sounds an awful lot like a union to me.
... Unionization of college athletes would be
the downfall of college athletics as we know
it today. You would create a stratification of
student athletes," Aguirre said. "You would
have to pay football players more than other
athletes. ... Having said that, that throws
your Title IX out the window, because male
sports make more than female sports."
Huma said he spoke with SAAC members
at Arizona State among those who had joined
the CAC.
"They understand that the SAAC doesn't
work," he said. "The system is designed so
that the NCAA can do what it wants."
Aguirre said the SAAC and the CAC are
addressing many of the same concerns. The
SAAC heard reports last week addressing the
possibility of offering year-round health
insurance to athletes, and there is also a
move in the NCAA to raise stipends by
around $2,000.
But Aguirre said when the SAAC address-
es these issues, it has to take into account
more sports than football and basketball.
"We need to be very responsible with the
decisions we are making about student
issues," he said. "A lot of institutions are
fully funding their minor sports. We're look-
ing at what would be the benefit for all stu-
dent athletes. We're not looking at a little
amount of money. There are about 70,000
athletes on full scholarship. If you're bump-
ing that up $2,000, that's $140 million...

Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr spoke with the Wolverines' about joining the Collegiate Athletes
Coalition last year. Since then, he said he has heard nothing else about it.

"All along, I've never wanted to see this as
an 'us-against-them' argument. We are all
student-athletes, and I think it's important to
keep encouraging student-athletes to work
through the system that exists," Aguirre said.
"'There are a lot of things that show
sports are the priority ..."
Whether it is the SAAC or the CAC that
tackles them, Huma indicated problems with
college athletics as a whole that he would
like to see addressed.
"Graduation rates are too low. The
NCAA will argue that on average, the stu-
dent athletes graduate at the same rate as
other students, but for Division I football,
the rate is 48 percent. For division I basket-
ball, it's 34 percent," Huma said. "The
tradeoff for all that hard work is a degree,
and less than half of the people are getting
their end of the deal. Some of it's the cul-
ture and the expectations these student ath-
letes bring, and some of it's the priorities
they bring."
Huma said that he would like to see the

CAC address these problems in the future,
but admitted that ideas for dealing with them
are still incubating.
"Before, they used to have a mandatory red-
shirt year where they could adjust to college
athletics and adjust to academic life," Huma
said. "I don't know if all student athletes
would like that. ... Me, personally, I didn't
redshirt. I played three games before I even
saw a classroom. It kind of sets the tone.
"Even off-season workouts. Some schools
require their academic schedule be scheduled
around their football schedule," Huma said.
"Realistically, there are a lot of things in col-
lege athletics that show sports are the priori-
ty, not academics."
Carr identified similar problems.
"There isn't any question that the financial
impact outside forces have had tremendous
impact," Carr said. "I think it's led to some
real negatives in the experience that college
athletes have. The corporate involvement has
led to greater pressure on the student athlete.
This discussion of the exploitation of the stu-
dent athlete is a result of that."





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