As the NCAA college men's basketball tournament—better known as March Madness—begins March 18, the very term "student-athlete" is under fire.
Efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team and an ongoing lawsuit against the National College Athletic Association for antitrust violations have some advocates for college athletes saying it's time for them to be classified as workers.
"It's long overdue to see that revenue-producing college athletes are employees and should get paid," said Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel University. "The term student-athlete is just propaganda to avoid paying athletes."
Staurowsky explained that when the NCAA—the non-profit organization that oversees college athletics—first started college sports scholarships in 1953, it devised a system of pay-for-play through those scholarships but that it purposely limited student-athletes' rights to be workers.
However, she said, as hundreds of millions of dollars are now made from college athletics, the NCAA rules governing the players must change to let them receive some of the financial benefits.