Recent events, including the UNC athletic scandal, the Northwestern football team's unionization efforts, Ed O'Bannon's victory in federal court, pending concussion lawsuits, and Congressional interest in reassessing the viability of the NCAA, have made it abundantly clear that college sports require a major overhaul. It is well past time for the protection of athletes' interests to be the principal driver of change. As Taylor Branch has written, athletes should enjoy the same rights that every other college student, and every other citizen, takes for granted. No freedom should be abridged “because of athletic status." These basic freedoms include the right to pursue compensation, the right to due process, the right to legal representation, the right to bargain collectively, the right to transfer from one school to another without penalty, and the right to participate in their own governance. Unless and until the NBA and NFL own up to their responsibility to create legitimate farm systems for aspiring professional athletes, big-time commercial sports are likely to coexist uneasily with the academic institutions that have always housed them. We therefore believe that the coming reform of college athletics should be implemented with one goal preeminently in mind: securing athletes' access to a quality university education.

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