Regardless of the outcomes of the O’Bannon Antitrust Case and the National Labor Relations Board decision, the Drake Group will continue to focus on academic integrity and education as key elements of athletes’ welfare.
Before the Civil War, every Southern state except Maryland and Kentucky had stringent laws forbidding anyone to teach slaves reading and writing. In North Carolina, it was a crime to distribute books or pamphlets to slaves.
Knowledge is power and in the Twenty-First Century it is immoral for universities to send out a message to young athletes that sports should take priority over excellence in the classroom. It is the latter that provides the pathway to careers in politics, medicine, business, education, and many other professions that lead to upward social mobility. The Drake Group has no interest in sustaining “a new plantation” system that prepares a handful of athletes for the pros, and requires others to major in eligibility.
Under the NCAA’s current system which treats athletes as employees, athletes should have every right to unionize and to sue the NCAA on antitrust grounds. The goal of the Drake group, however, is to compensate athletes with educational and medical benefits that will lead to life-long social mobility. There are more than enough professional sports leagues in the country to keep fans happy. The purpose of college sports is to enhance education, not to provide minor league training for the pros. For America’s underclass, education is priceless.
An excellent discussion of the centrality of race in college sports can be found in Billy Hawkins book: The New Plantation: Black Athletes, College Sports, and Predominantly White NCAA Institutions.