SOURCE: fluent


April 23, 2014 10:11 ET

College Athlete Unionization Deemed Poor Play by Non-Athletic Peers: Majority Fear Economic and Cultural Divide

Fluent Survey Uncovers College Community Concerns Over Student-Athlete Unions

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Apr 23, 2014) - As Northwestern football players prepare to cast their ballots on Friday over whether or not to unionize under the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), college marketing agency Fluent surveyed 900 U.S. college students for their opinions on the potential outcomes of student-athlete unions. Weighing the potential pros and cons of student athlete unionization, the majority of college students (47%) surveyed opposed the idea of student athletes forming unions, while 29% were in favor of it and 22% were unsure. Ninety-four percent of respondents designated themselves as non-athletes with a near 50/50 split between male and female.

Citing Inequities

Asked to give their viewpoint on the potential impact college athlete unionization could have on their school, over half of the students felt allowing athletes to gain employee status would cause significant inequities on campus:

  • 51% cited possible inequities between different sports.

  • 53% noted inequities between student athletes and non-student athletes.

  • Only 28% believe it will create a more just college athletics system.

"From our conversations with college students, it's clear this issue matters to more than just the student-athlete. It has the potential to significantly impact the entire college community," said Michael Carey, EVP of Fluent. "So we decided to ask our nationwide network of students to get a better read on how the overall student community felt about it, and we learned they have some very real concerns over how this might change the college experience in a multitude of ways."

The Financial Factor

Another key finding of the survey revealed a concern over rising tuition if more funds were allocated to Division I sports programs than are already assigned through current athletic scholarships.

  • As many as 45% believe it will accelerate the ever-increasing cost of a college education for all students.

  • 56% said it would have a negative effect on student aid for non-athletes, and 45% said it would even negatively impact student aid for non-unionized athletes.

  • 36% said it could offer those Division I student athletes without scholarships the compensation they deserve. But 27% said it would make lesser-revenue-generating sports teams even less competitive.

  • Other stats showed that 53% of students believe unionizing college athletes would have a negative effect in the focus of the school operationally between athletics and academics, and 52% said it could negatively impact facilities and departmental funding elsewhere on campus.

When asked specifically about compensation rates, and what amounts are considered fair if student-athletes were to be treated as employees, the results showed:

  • The majority of responses (evenly distributed) lined up with choices that are more typical of athletic scholarships already in place:
    • 25% said $30,000/year
    • 27% said full tuition
    • 25% said full tuition with extended healthcare benefits

  • Less than 4% felt that students should be compensated anywhere from $30,000-100,000.

  • Up to 70% of respondents are satisfied with the pay structure for current student-athletes at Division I schools who receive part or full scholarship money.

The Academic Aspect

When asked to express their thoughts on how the unionization could affect student athletes academically, 46% of students said it would discourage student athletes from pursuing academic degrees entirely as they focus solely on their sport, whereas 32% believe it could have a positive effect on student athletes' academic careers, by encouraging them to stay in school and graduate with a degree.

About Fluent: Specializing in "translating brands for the college world," Fluent works with clients who want to understand and engage College Millennial Consumers (CMCs) nationwide, both on- and off-campus. With a network encompassing more than 1,000 colleges and universities, Fluent's capabilities include campus activities and programs, College Millennial Consumer insights, digital and social media strategy and activations, and experiential programs. Clients have included major brands such as Kellogg's, Microsoft, Macy's, Jack in the Box, Skype, Zipcar, Kotex, Dove and L'Oreal. For more information, visit:

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