Calling the NCAA a dictatorship, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and the United Steelworkers announced plans Tuesday to form the first labor union for college athletes — the latest salvo in the bruising fight over whether amateur players should be paid.
Colter detailed the College Athletes Players Association at a news conference in Chicago, flanked by leaders of Steelworkers union that has agreed to pay legal bills for the effort. The NCAA and the Big Ten Conference criticized the move and insisted that college athletes cannot be considered employees.
Colter said the NCAA dictates terms to its hundreds of member schools and tens of thousands of college athletes, leaving players with little or no say about financial compensation questions or how to improve their own safety. That college football generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue only bolstered the argument for a union, he said.
“How can they call this amateur athletics when our jerseys are sold in stores and the money we generate turns coaches and commissioners into multimillionaires?” Colter asked.
“The current model represents a dictatorship,” added Colter, who just finished his senior year. “We just want a seat at the table.”
Colter said “nearly 100 percent” of his Wildcats teammates backed the drive to unionize. But only he spoke publicly, saying the others wanted to keep a low profile.
Rutgers near hiring ex-Maryland coach
Rutgers is close to hiring former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen as its offensive coordinator, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. Rutgers and Maryland will enter the Big Ten next season and play each other on Nov. 29.
Michigan expels kicker Gibbons in sex case
Michigan expelled ex-Wolverines kicker Brendan Gibbons last month for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policies, the Michigan Daily student newspaper reported. The 22-year-old was Michigan’s kicker for the past three seasons. His eligibility to play ran out at season’s end.
Buckeyes AD Gene Smith named VP
Ohio State gave athletic director Gene Smith the additional title of vice president and has extended his contract through June 2020. His base salary is now $940,484 a year.
Protective pitchers cap approved
Major League Baseball approved a protective cap for pitchers, hoping to reduce the damage from line drives to head that have brought some terrifying scenes in recent years.
The heavier and bigger new hat will be available for testing during spring training on a voluntary basis. Major leaguers and minor leaguers won’t be required to wear it — comfort is likely to be a primary concern.
Several pitchers have been hit in the head by line drives in the recent seasons. Brandon McCarthy suffered a brain contusion and skull fracture after being struck in 2012 and Doug Fister was hit during the World Series that October.
Toronto’s J.A. Happ and Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb were sidelined after being hit last year.
McCarthy tweeted that he had already tried out the fortified cap and that it was “headed in right direction but not game-ready.”
Charges dropped against Dodgers’ Puig
Police in southwest Florida dropped a reckless driving charge against Los Angeles Dodgers star outfielder Yasiel Puig, who was arrested Dec. 28 after a trooper reported the 23-year-old was driving at 110 miles per hour in a 70-mph zone.
AROUND THE HORN
Golf: Tiger Woods didn’t sound too worried over matching his worst score in America on a course where he had won eight times. “I wouldn’t read anything into what happened Saturday at Torrey Pines,” he said after an 18-hole exhibition for past winners of the Dubai Desert Classic. Woods went seven consecutive holes making bogey or worse — including consecutive double bogeys for the first time in more than two years — on his way to a 79 at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he was defending champion.
Olympics: Brazilian government officials said the country will spend $2.3 billion on about half of all infrastructure projects needed specifically for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, with the total cost yet unknown. The cost estimate was released by the Olympic Public Authority, which coordinates planning for the Olympics between Brazil’s three levels of government — national, state and local. Officials presented costs for 24 of the 52 projects needed to host the games. They said the remaining projects would drive cost higher, but offered no estimate.
Auto racing: Jimmie Johnson was stunned by the proposed changes to the championship format that NASCAR Chairman Brian France laid out in a phone call two weeks ago. “It just caught me off guard and shocked me, and I told Brian when he called me, ‘Just give me a minute to adjust, because I’m on my heels,’ ” the six-time champion said. NASCAR will officially announce its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format Thursday. All signs point to a 16-driver field whittled down through eliminations to four drivers and a winner-take-all season finale. … Chip Ganassi Racing has had a preliminary discussion with former NASCAR champion Kurt Busch about running the Indianapolis 500.