Daniel Libit is a political journalism veteran based in Chicago with no experience in traditional sports reporting.
A legal opinion from the National Labor Relations Board declares players at major private universities to be "employees," entitled to the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Those rights include freedom from university "gag orders" and from heavy-handed monitoring of social media.
In a new law journal article, Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, makes a case for why universities shouldn’t regulate student-athletes’ social media accounts and online speech.“What makes social media novel and empowering — that it is an immediate, unfiltered way to ‘speak’ with thousands of people — is also what makes it frightening to campus regulators,” LoMonte writes.
At a public institution, the First Amendment protects students' ability to express themselves free from government sanction, and the Due Process Clause protects against the removal of public benefits in an arbitrary way or without adequate notice.
There's an intriguing new ruling out from North Carolina's Court of Appeals that, while not directly related to free expression, portends difficulty for the inevitable legal challenge as more college athletes are punished for what they say on social media.The court of appeals decided Tuesday that a former Tar Heels football player has no claim against either the University of North Carolina or the NCAA for the loss of earnings he believes he suffered when he was barred from the team for his senior season, leaving him to enter the NFL as an undrafted free agent receiving the league's minimum salary.Michael McAdoo was kicked off the team after being accused of accepting inappropriate help from a tutor in completing a term paper for (yes, really) his Swahili class, leading the NCAA to declare him ineligible to play.On top of the NCAA disqualification, UNC suspended McAdoo for a semester and put him on academic probation, but did not take away his athletic scholarship entirely.It's worth perusing the entire opinion, but the bottom line is that, in the view of the three-judge panel in North Carolina, McAdoo has no case because he lost only playing time, not his scholarship, housing and other tangible university benefits.
There's nothing as empowering -- or maddening -- as a clean slate. What will you do with 2013? Drop those 15 pounds?