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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Tommy Tuberville: Dartmouth Basketball Union ‘Will Absolutely Kill College Sports’

  • The U.S. senator and former college football coach said on Fox News that he supports athletes making money but is against unions.
  • Tuberville: Athletes ‘are not employees.’ But also: ‘It’s a full-time job being an athlete.’
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

Meta: Senator Tommy Tuberville criticized the Dartmouth men’s basketball union vote on Fox News. The former college football coach said he supports athletes making money but is against unions.

Following Tuesday’s historic vote by the Dartmouth men’s basketball team to unionize, senator and former college football coach Tommy Tuberville (R., Ala.) let it rip on Fox News, heavily criticizing the students’ decision.

“This will absolutely kill college sports,” Tuberville opined on the network’s America Reports show Wednesday.

Tuberville pointed out that a name, image, and likeness bill he previously proposed left out unionization, and he blamed Democrats’ wanting its inclusion for it not having reached the floor. The way he sees it: Athletes are not employees, and getting the federal government and unions involved “will be a total disaster.”

“I’m not against student-athletes making some money, because it’s a full-time job being an athlete, and a full-time job being in academics. But there’s a way forward where they can do both without unionizing,” Tuberville said.

A big reason Tuberville says he’s against unions: College athletes would have the power to go on strike at any moment.

“Unions get involved, they will go on strike right before a championship game, they will hold hostage the people that are paying the bills,” he said.

Tuberville made the argument that many college athletes don’t bring in revenue for their universities, and that much of the revenue that is accrued goes back into scholarships and facilities for all athletes. “This is profit, obviously, but profit goes back into the business,” he said.

The senator also said he supports “revenue sharing,” but not in the way that former Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has spoken about it. Instead of suggesting athletes should share in the revenue schools make from media deals, as Harbaugh did this year, Tuberville used the term to mean that, he says, all college athletes should get paid equally, regardless of sport.

“I’m all for student-athletes making some money. … It should be revenue sharing: everybody, men and women, in every sport that’s on scholarship, should have the opportunity to probably get the same amount of money. Then the NIL kicks in, and if you’re good enough, you can go out and sell yourself.”

Tuberville isn’t the only voice coming out against the union vote. Dartmouth released a statement calling the vote “as unprecedented as it is inaccurate,” arguing that the basketball players are “not in any way” employed by the school.

But the students have also received support, in one case, from another member of Congress, Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), who authored another of the myriad NIL bills floating around Congress.

“This is a monumental day for college sports and a huge victory for the athletes,” Murphy’s statement read.

House Republicans are holding a joint subcommittee hearing Tuesday called “Safeguarding Student-Athletes from NLRB Misclassification.” Elsewhere, an ongoing National Labor Relations Board trial in Los Angeles is considering whether USC football and basketball players should be considered university employees.

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