College football players group talks with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, demands include share of revenue

College football players group talks with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, demands include share of revenue

Sharing Big Ten Conference revenue with players is among the list of demands recently made to the league by a group of college football players and learned by CBS Sports.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford met Jason Stahl, executive director of the College Football Players Association. CFBPA is a player advocacy organization founded in 2021. Stahl is a former faculty member at the University of Minnesota.

That meeting then led to him sharing information with the Penn State team.

Stahl said he secretly met the Penn State players on campus from July 7-14.

Eventually news of the discussions reached Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. Stahl provided a list of demands to CBS Sports that he said went to Warren. It included improved medical care and a “percentage of media rights revenue for players”.


Stahl said he spoke with Warren by phone for an hour on Thursday. In addition to players receiving a share of conference proceeds from media rights, the demands include allowing players for independent medical care separate from school and “health protection” after eligibility.

“We talked about the three demands,” Stahl told CBS Sports. “The first two, he seemed very open to moving toward our position. The third requirement [regarding sharing revenue] I would say it’s going to be a lot more consistent, but it’s going to be part of the conversation.”

Clifford confirmed the discussions on Friday.

“Those three things are just the basis for what we’d like to do. In fact, we think there’s more that can happen,” Clifford told ESPN, which reported a meeting between the two sides on Friday.

Stahl said CFBPA President Roxanne McRae has been invited to next week’s Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis.

“The Big Ten is constantly communicating and collaborating with our student-athletes,” Warren said in a statement. “We are in the process of formalizing a Student Athletic Advisory Committee to solicit input from our student-athletes on the changing landscape of college athletics. We continue to work with our member institutions to ensure that our student-athletes have an outstanding performance and well-rounded experience, while promoting and sustaining the mission of higher education, and prioritizing excellence and integrity in both academics and athletics.”

With an impending Big Ten TV rights deal looming, the thinking is that not only will there be enough money to share with players, but such an arrangement could give the Big Ten a competitive advantage over other conferences.

“It’s not about the Big Ten and it’s not about Penn State — it’s about all of the college athletes who need fixing,” Stahl said.

Stahl said his organization should not be described as a union. It is a membership-based players association. However, Stahl added that if progress is not made with the Big Ten to voluntarily meet the three demands, “we have the option of forming a union and trying to unite the Big Ten completely.”

“We are not a union,” Shatal stressed. “I’ve had great conversations with Kevin Warren that he was willing to talk to the CFBPA about these three demands. We’ll exhaust that process before we think of other avenues.”

The conference is close to announcing a new media rights deal that is said to be worth up to $1 billion annually to be shared by the top 10 schools. (Sixteen when UCLA and UCLA join in 2024.) As money and power unite around the Big Ten and the SEC, such a move would be not just a game changer for the league but for all college athletics.

Warren has long been an advocate for college athletes who played college basketball and his experience as a former worker. His brother Morrison was one of the first black soccer players at Stanford.

At least the top ten ads have discussed the concept casually for at least six months according to a source. However, it’s not clear how much of the Big Ten ads were tied to specific revenue-sharing expectations.

The phrase “collective bargaining” is not used in the list of demands but it is assumed that this is what any discussion of revenue sharing should include. Collective bargaining has long been discussed with players as inevitable in college athletics in an age that includes the advantages of nothing and freedom of transfer.

“It’s more about, is this inevitable and unlike anything any of us have done over the past 25-30 years?…let’s move forward,” said a source familiar with the discussions.

Scholarships for college athletes are limited to room, books, board, tuition, cost of attendance, and NIL benefits. Sharing the revenue would bring the once-powerful amateur NCAA athletes closer to being considered “employees” than ever before.

There were no figures available regarding what percentage of the Big Ten pot would be required by the CFBPA. One source speculated that the Big Ten could sidestep the Title IX laws by distributing the money through the convention office rather than the schools. In this sense, the conference office will not be an educational entity that receives federal funds that are necessarily subject to Section IX.

“Why should we share profits with an athlete who doesn’t make them?” A source familiar with the discussions said.

Through collective bargaining, the two sides can hold talks on other issues. The NCAA announced this week that athletes can move as many times as they want. This piece can be discussed during a bargaining session in exchange for a greater commitment by the players.

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