Meyer pro-stipend, hesitant on other issues

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer watches his team during NCAA college football practice Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio.

Jay LaPrete/AP

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Urban Meyer knew the question was coming.

As usual, he was prepared.

Speaking to the media after Ohio State’s spring practice on Tuesday for the first time since the National Labor Relations Board gave Northwestern University football players the green light to form the nation’s first college athletic union, Meyer said he’s never believed that college football players are employees.

"Not at all," Meyer said.

From there, he treaded carefully.

"I’ve always been pro-student," Meyer said. "What I do feel is that students should get more than what they get. It gets so complicated though, and I’m so focused on our team that I’ve read a little bit of (the Northwestern ruling). I’ve watched it when it comes up but to say I’ve immersed myself in that situation, no, I haven’t."

Meyer said he’d be in favor of athletes getting a financial stipend on top of the full scholarships and in favor of players families getting travel to certain games paid for, two issues that have been widely discussed and will continue to be.

Meanwhile, Northwestern has appealed the initial ruling and the players involved still have to vote to actually unionize. The NCAA, universities and coaches everywhere are watching closely.

"They should get a stipend," Meyer said. "But to say that they…can go out and get their own shoe contracts and those kind of things, I start hearing that and I’m like, ‘Woah.’ (I wonder) what would that do for this great sport and really, what would that do for college athletics as a whole? I don’t know a whole lot. I’d imagine after spring I’ll hear more."

Meyer said he’s always been in favor of the rule limiting players to 20 hours per week of formal football activity when school is in session, a rule that’s at the heart of the argument about whether players should be considered employees.