Stanford Cardinal football coach David Shaw is not one of those inside the game that has reacted bitterly to the notion of Northwestern University players forming a union following a landmark ruling by a regional director for the National Labor Relations Board that declared the players employees of the university.
Shaw is, however, curious about what’s behind the whole thing.
The coach told The Associated Press that he’s just not sure what it’s all about.
“I’m as confused as anybody as to the importance of this,” Shaw said. “I’m curious what’s really driving it. I’ve seen everything and everything that’s been asked for, my understanding is it’s been provided.
“I think Northwestern does a phenomenal job providing for their kids and it’s weird to try to unionize but still compliment Northwestern and compliment their coaching staff on being taken care of. Those things don’t seem to go hand in hand.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban told the AP on Monday he believes players should have a voice.
“I’ve always been an advocate of players’ rights,” Saban said. “I’ve always been an advocate of players being compensated the best that we can to help them. Whatever the NCAA rule is and whatever they decide to do, I’ve always been an advocate of the player and the quality of life that a player has. Having a voice in what happens, I think, is something that the players probably ought to have.”
It’s important to point out that Saban is in a vastly different situation than is Shaw.
The NLRB ruling would only apply to private colleges and universities that have scholarship-level football programs. Public universities would be governed by applicable labor regulations for unions that represent employees of the state and various levels of government in that state.
So while coaching at the University of Alabama, Saban doesn’t have any real concerns. Coaching at private Stanford University is a different matter for Shaw—whatever ends up happening at Northwestern sets precedents that could have a very real and immediate impact on The Farm.
Shaw also took issue with comments made by the leader of the players unionization movement at Northwestern, former Wildcat quarterback Kain Colter, who said that Stanford rescinded a scholarship because of an injury.
Shaw recruited Colter out of Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colo.
“I went to his high school,” Shaw said. “I talked to his high school coach. I sat there and talked to him for an hour and a half and watched all the kid’s film,” Shaw said. “There was no way we dropped a scholarship offer because he got hurt.”
Shaw said he’s talked to his players—“preliminary conversations” is how he termed it—regarding the Northwestern ruling. He did say that his players have not been approached by the College Athletes Players Association or discussed forming a union at Stanford.