Posts Tagged ‘student-athlete’

Baptiste Bataille seemed to have his life together when his college graduation approached in 2010. He finished his collegiate basketball career at Northeastern University as one of the leaders in the men’s basketball program, received a bachelor’s degree in environmental geology and marine biology and was looking forward to a bright future in the education field.

But post-graduation, things didn’t pan out the way Bataille expected. Eager to end the job hunt with a position relating to his college education, the French native was stopped short after running into an obstacle he couldn’t bypass.

“On top of being a student-athlete, I was an international student-athlete, so I was dealing with visas,” said Bataille. “A lot of employers are skeptical of hiring a foreigner over an American either because they have to pay a little more money because of the visa or they’re scared of the immigration process. That was one of the main issues.”

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With no other options at the time, Bataille turned to what was his main focus in college—basketball. He returned overseas the summer after graduation and signed with a professional basketball team on the west coast of France. Being a French native, it was easy for him to sign onto a team and get exposure.

“I wanted to play overseas while I was fresh and in shape,” said Bataille. “I looked at the work industry and applied for some jobs but when I kept getting turned down it kind of led me towards the overseas track.”

Bataille is one of many student-athletes faced with the same questions; do I work through the economy and try to get a job? Or do I continue on the path of being a professional athlete?

Diane Ciarletta, senior associate director of career services at Northeastern University, acknowledged the fact that the current economy is slow. But despite this slow economy, she feels a main focus of graduates must be searching for a job the right way.

“The main thing we try to teach our students is the importance of networking and getting out from behind the computer,” said Ciarletta. “Most people spend 90 percent of their time looking at online postings and less than 10 percent making connections and the first thing I tell them is to reverse that ratio. I always tell people if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can’t get there.”

Veronica Napoli, senior international affairs major at Northeastern University and legend of the women’s soccer program, understands Ciarletta’s concept completely. And although Napoli doesn’t face the same visa issue as Bataille, she shares a similar bond with the idea of an inability to land a job.

“More of it is just not hearing back,” said Napoli.  “And I’ve applied mostly through online postings, which is the main problem and I know that. It’s a lot easier to get a job if you know somebody or through networking. But I’m young enough where I’m able to take advantage of the opportunity to play overseas and this might be the only time in my life where I’ll have that opportunity.“

Napoli, a third-team All-American and record holder for most career goals at Northeastern, has opted for the professional track in Italy while integrating an interim job with the Boston Breakers until she leaves to go overseas. Having picked up this temporary position through a connection with the Breakers, this option, she said, allows her to combine both playing and working until the right job offer comes along.

“I’ll be doing general management and sales for the Breakers during their season until August when I’ll leave to go play in Italy,” said Napoli. “Playing just seems like the best fit for me right now whereas taking a sales job or a business job and working from 9-5 in an office just to say I have a job, that doesn’t sound appealing to me.”

Bataille and Napoli join a larger group of graduating student-athletes who were unable to gain any job experience due to the rigorous lifestyle of being a Division 1 athlete.

“I definitely didn’t get enough work experience because of basketball,” said Bataille. “It didn’t allow us to have a part-time job or summer job and if I could go back I would do it differently and try to take advantage of the co-op program and networking. That way, as opposed to just being caught up in the season which is so heavy in traveling, you can look back and say you have experience when trying to answer to the job market.”

Kashaia Cannon, health management graduate student and senior on the women’s basketball team at Northeastern, feels the lack of experience as well now that she’s trying to land a job in the health management industry.

“I’m applying to mostly internships now and I haven’t heard back from any yet,” said Cannon. “And I’m applying to internships and not full-time jobs because there aren’t any entry-level positions in the health management field. They’re mostly manager positions and I don’t have enough experience to apply. The experience is a huge issue. These positions require at least three years’ worth and I don’t have that coming right out of being a college athlete.”

While having a “Plan B” in mind—that is, getting a job—Cannon is hoping to continue her basketball career overseas. She will be attending three different tryouts throughout the United States this summer, with the hopes of landing an agent and a professional contract. For her, like Napoli, the love of the game is too much to give up for a low-level job outside of her desired field.

But contrary to popular belief, it seems there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Although student-athletes are choosing to continue playing professionally and arguably delaying the process of getting a job, it could work out to their benefit.

Bataille just recently accepted a job in Connecticut after finishing his professional basketball career. Although it took three years since graduation, he will be teaching French at a private school and coaching basketball—something he has always wanted to do.

“I think in that specific industry, the education industry in the private sector, they’re looking for people that are multifaceted and people who can do different things,” said Bataille. “I was able to utilize my background in terms of playing professional sports and bring that kind of diverse lifestyle and that helped me get this job.”

The battle to pay collegiate student-athletes is continuing to progress as the days of NCAA reform slowly tick away. College sports as we know it is, in fact, a business. All businesses pay their employees, right? So why is it so difficult to override the rule that states that athletes can’t get paid?

They do work just as hard, or arguably harder, than the “employees” that do get paid.

Well, there may be some great news ahead for collegiate players. A few weeks ago, a judge ruled that NCAA athletes can legally pursue a chunk of the money college sports makes through television deals.

NBC_Sports_logo_2012Judge Claudia Wilken dismissed a motion by the NCAA to prevent football and men’s basketball players from legally obtaining live broadcast revenues. She set the hearing for June 20 and ordered the NCAA to collectively make its arguments against class certification on merits rather than “procedural objections”.

If the plaintiffs—which in this case would be representatives of collegiate athletes—prevail, a mechanism for players would be set up to collect licensing revenues. The FCAA, or Former College Athletes Association, would negotiate licenses with the NCAA, member colleges and video game and media companies to receive compensation.

Dave Berri, a sports economist with Southern Utah University and the author of The Wages of Win, discussed with The Atlantic his thoughts on why student athletes should be paid. In his mind, the players are the workers who are inevitably generating the money being made.

He also states that the reason student-athletes would go after money produced from television deals rather than money being made from the games themselves is that broadcast revenue is the biggest source of money. In order to have a case where players would receive a cut of “gate revenue”, they would have to sue every single team individually. But to receive a portion of the broadcast revenue, Berri states, you would have to bring a class action lawsuit against just the NCAA as a whole since it is the NCAA that negotiates the broadcast contracts.

Complicated, yes, but a smart tactic nonetheless.

The entire process will take an extended period of time and will most likely be fuddled and bogged down with numerous legal details and loopholes yet to be determined. But it will definitely be worth it for student-athletes. The money generated through collegiate athletics is due largely to the student-athletes themselves.

So why shouldn’t they receive a cut of the money?