April 5, 2014
Recently, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that scholarship football players at Northwestern University should be considered employees and given the right to unionize. The NCAA and Northwestern are appealing the ruling while others, like the National College Players Association, hope it will help end what they see as exploitation of college athletes by organizations like the NCAA. While the importance of this decision is unclear, we do know that this is the beginning of a long process and no one is entirely sure where it will end. Joining us to discuss the ramification of this decision and where the process goes from here is Jeffrey Michael Hirsch, a professor at the UNC School of Law who specializes in labor law and union organizing.
March 29, 2014
Recently, University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross was invited by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to attend their latest meeting as an independent participant. President Ross spoke to the committee’s public session and met with members in their executive session. On this special edition of Sports Focus, President Ross joins us to discuss what he told the commission and what he thinks are the most pressing issues relating to college athletics in North Carolina and the nation as a whole.
March 22, 2014
Recent scandals regarding the education that student-athletes in big-time athletics programs are receiving begs the question, what can be done to make sure the “student” in student-athlete still means something? One idea proposed by an instructor at UNC would allow student-athletes to take a reduced course load in their active seasons and make up for it after their playing eligibility has expired. Joining us to discuss this proposal and other alternatives to the current system are Stephen King, an instructor of visual communication and author of the aforementioned proposal, and Luke Notestine, a sports anchor and reporter at WLOS News 11, the ABC affiliate in Asheville, North Carolina.
March 15, 2014
A class action lawsuit against the NCAA, known commonly as the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, is finally on the way to some kind of resolution. Originally filed in 2009 against videogame makers over their use of former athlete’s likenesses in their games, the suit has expanded to include former and current players and the NCAA. A federal judge has ordered the parties to enter settlement talks, with a trail date in June if those talks don’t resolve the issues. Joining us to talk about where the case is and where it might be going are Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel University and Sonny Vaccaro, sports marketing pioneer and long time NCAA critic.
March 8, 2014
A recent cover story for Bloomberg Businessweek shows a UNC basketball jersey with an ‘F’ grade and the caption “No Class.” This refers both to lectures in the Afro-american studies department, taken predominately by student-athletes at UNC, that never met and the way the University has handled the ensuing scandal. Joining us to discuss the article and why Universities are so reluctant to address these issues are Paul Barrett, author of the Businessweek cover story, and Richard Southall, director of the College Sports Research Institute.
March 1, 2014
You can’t have a successful college athletic program without the right athletes and recruiting these players has become a huge part most athletics programs, almost becoming a sport in-and-of itself. How has this changed over the years? How are coaches able to predict if a high school sophomore will be a successful college player? And how do scouting agencies and the growing media and fan interest in recruiting affect the process? Joining us to discuss this are Jimmy Adams, a retired basketball coach who has worked at the high school and college level (University of Memphis and Ole Miss), and Joe Giglio, a sports writer at the News & Observer who covers recruiting.
February 22, 2014
We all know that the Olympics are an opportunity for nations around the world to come together in a friendly, competitive environment and that no one country actually wins the games. But winning medals, especially gold medals, and even hosting the games are tremendous sources of national pride for many countries, the US included. What is it like to represent your country on this stage? And is there a better way for national Olympic committees and media organizations to measure success in the games? Joining us to discuss these issues are Dr. Phillips D’Agati author of Nationalism on the World Stage: Cultural Performance at the Olympic Games and Karen Shelton, head coach of the UNC women’s field hockey team and member of the US field hockey team who won a bronze medal at the 1984 games.
February 15, 2014
Back in August, the NFL and a group of former players reached a settlement in a lawsuit over the long-term effects of concussions suffered during their time in the league. The settlement required the NFL to pay a total of $750 million dollars. But recently a federal judge ruled that this amount may not be enough and both legal teams now must reconvene to decide how much the league owes the nearly 4,500 players represented in the suit. Joining us to talk about what all this means from a former-player’s perspective are Jamal Brooks, a former linebacker who played for six years in the league, and Jack Brewer, a former safety for player for five years.
February 8, 2014
Recently, the first real steps were taken for college student-athletes to be represented by a labor union. Paperwork was filed with local and national labor boards on behalf several football players at Northwestern University. The players are represented by the National College Players Association which says it is trying to improve playing conditions and treatment of student-athletes by the NCAA. Joining us to discuss the issue are Richard Southall, director of the College Sports Research Institute and Jeffrey Michael Hirsch, a professor of the UNC School of Law who specializing in labor laws and union organizing.
February 1, 2014
Ever since the NBA enacted new age-restrictions for draft eligibility in 2006, many young basketball players who would have normally gone straight into the pros from high school must attend college, but only for one year. This so-called “one-and-done” rule has been controversial, especially from the standpoint of colleges who admit these student-athletes with the expectation that they will leave as soon as they are draft-eligable. Is it even fair to calls these players “student-athletes”? Joining us to discuss the topic are Leonard Elmore, attorney and basketball analyst for ESPN, and Chris Ekstrand, former sports writer and current NBA scout.