Position Paper, May 1998

Proposition 62: A Position Paper by the UNC-CH Program for Public Policy in Sport

        Proposition 62 was approved as Division I legislation at the 1997 NCAA Convention, but its implementation was delayed until August 1998. Concerns about scholarships are abundant in the literature. A full scholarship consists of room, board, tuition, fees, and books. While these benefits are quite substantial to the student-athlete, they do not include incidental expenses such as laundry, transportation, and entertainment. The intent of Proposition 62 is to level the playing field in regard to these incidental expenses, and allow student-athletes to earn up to $2,000 over the value of a full grant-in-aid. Although student-athletes applauded this new legislation, athletics administrators acknowledged the potential for abuse. Indeed, some observers have noted that Proposition 62 may be the next step in a process of pay-for-play in college athletics.

        It should be noted that the vote by delegates at the 1997 NCAA Convention clearly indicates that jobs for athletes is a very contentious issue. Among big-time Division I-A institutions, the vote was 61-51 against this new initiative. Smaller Division I schools, however, had enough support to push through this legislation by a vote of 169-150, with six abstentions. Division I-A administrators seemed to focus on the potential for abuse, while smaller schools concentrated on the positive benefits to the student-athlete.
        Legislation resulting from Proposition 62 has several major components that outline the conditions under which student-athletes my participate in outside employment:
    1. Student-athletes must have completed one academic year in residence and be eligible for competition.
    2. Student-athletes may earn up to $2,000 beyond the full grant-in-aid, with employment earnings not considered institutional aid, thus not counting against team financial aid limits.
    3. Athletic department personnel and athletics interests (boosters) may intercede on behalf of the student-athlete in regard to obtaining employment.
Bridget Niland, co-chair of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee largely responsible for this legislation, has pointed out that the needs of student-athletes "can be as simple as filling your gas tank and doing your laundry, or extensive as being a responsible contributor to household family income." Clearly, this legislation was a major priority of student-athletes. An NCAA Special Committee on this issue further elaborated on the rationale for this legislation by stating that Proposition 62 "will provide student-athletes with an opportunity to improve their own financial situations ... and to enjoy the same benefits of undergraduate life as nonathletes"
Impacts & Implications
        As noted by many people associated with college athletics, there is the possibility that many NCAA violations and abuses will result from the implementation of Proposition 62. One problem often cited is that there may be job differentiation based on sport and position. For example, the star quarterback might have an easier job that the second string offensive lineman. Another potential issue is the impact by well-meaning alumni on collegiate athletics. In the past, there have been many instances of alumni paying athletes large amounts of money for work not actually performed. By introducing boosters into the equation, the potential for this type of abuse is only magnified. Yet another factor associated with this legislation is the impact on study time for the student-athlete. With twenty hours per week of team activity, plus optional workouts, study hall, and class, there is little time left over to hold a part-time job. Another possible implication of student-athlete employment is the possible recruiting advantage of schools located in large population centers. Universities in metropolitan areas, for instance, might be able to arrange more and better jobs than colleges or universities located in rural settings. Indeed, as University of Colorado football coach Rick Neuheisel stated that "This thing is so chockfull of problems, it'll never work"
A final issue that could have enormous long-term effects on college athletics is the legality of imposing a $2,000 cap on outside employment earnings. With the recent $67 million ruling against the NCAA in the antitrust suit brought by restricted-earnings coaches, the court held that the NCAA restricted trade and capitalized on its monopoly on college athletics. Similar legal questions could be raised about Proposition 62. Likewise, questions relating to labor and workman's compensation for student-athletes may be raised.

        Proposition 62 will develop in one of several ways. The first scenario is one in which few athletes will seek outside employment and compliance measures will be kept to a minimum. A second scenario involves many student-athletes who wish to participate in outside employment and additional compliance personnel added to the athletics department. A third scenario involves employment by a majority of student-athletes will increased pressure on institutional compliance officers and the local economy. A final scenario is one is which a college or university operates a system of differentiated employment opportunities and uses this program as a significant recruiting tool. Since this type of activity is difficult to monitor at the NCAA level, there is the potential for numerous NCAA violations and abuses.
Clearly, there are several important implications to college athletics based on recent Proposition 62 legislation. While student-athletes evidently will benefit by the implementation of this new legislation, athletics administrators must make every effort to combat NCAA violations and abuse of this rule. Indeed, many institutions may be forced to hire additional personnel to monitor the student-athlete employment program. Furthermore, coordination between the athletic department and booster groups must ensure that rules are being followed to the letter. Finally, since it will difficult to accurately monitor the earnings of student-athletes, every effort must be made to arrange employment with reputable establishments that have the best interests of the university and the student-athlete at heart.

        The Program for Public Policy in Sport believes, at this time, that Proposition 62 creates huge potential for abuse by athletics interests and institutions. Although this legislation was well intended by the NCAA and student-athletes, it further adds to the professional image of the student-athlete. Furthermore, the implementation of Proposition 62 adds to the cost of administering a program of intercollegiate athletics and vastly magnifies the potential for abuse.

1. All Athletic Departments need to study Proposition 62 and make plans to insure that the benefits outweigh the negatives.
2. Legal staffs of the Athletic Departments at all levels need to pay careful attention to the implementation of Proposition 62.
3. State Departments of Labor need to study Proposition 62 in regards to unemployment compensation, workman compensation, and potential lawsuits.
4. Rural colleges or universities having limited employment opportunities must be prepared to study the requests for possible vouchers or direct remuneration in lieu of work opportunities.
5. Alumni clubs must be briefed in great detail about Proposition 62.

        Proposition 62 must be monitored very closely by institutions and sport administrators. Perhaps it should have been a pilot project. The one-year delay in implementation helped the situation, but Proposition 62 may by judged untimely, unnecessary, and may present more problems that it solves. Indeed, as Big Twelve Conference Commissioner Steve Hatchell has noted, "philosophically, it's a good rule," but "we're going to have a mess on our hands"

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