TULSA, Okla. (6/30/14)--Quoted in a Tulsa World op-ed piece, Credit Union National Association interim President/CEO Bill Hampel debunked claims by the American Bankers Association (ABA) that professional athletes don't deserve membership to a credit union specific to their needs.
ABA President/CEO Frank Keating wrote a piece in the June 23 issue of The Hill, claiming pro athletes' salaries are too high for them to be eligible for credit unions serving those of "small means." Keating was referring to the National Credit Union Administration's recent preliminary field of membership approval to Players Choice FCU, which would have a multiple common bond of organizations focused on professional and amateur sports (News Now May 27).
However, as Hampel pointed out in Wayne Greene's June 25 column, "Is the (American Bankers Association) suggesting that high-paid, high-profile athletes and others should only be allowed to obtain financial services from banks? Hmm. Not much of an image builder for the banking industry, desperate to rid itself of the rap that it doesn't care much for everyday people."
Hampel also noted that there are many pro athletes--including minor league baseball, basketball and soccer players--who have quite low incomes.
Tulsa World author Greene himself wrote, "Financial literacy training for pro athletes is a good idea. The NFL, PGA, NBA and Major League Baseball should take responsibility for that immediately."
According to Leagues of Their Own, which is a sponsor of the proposed credit union, 85% of athletes are at least a quarter-million dollars in debt and divorced, resulting in financial distress within five years after their career ends.
The original idea for a credit union that would serve a membership of professional athletes began with Stacy Fielder August, who believes the credit union can provide needed financial literacy as well as financial services. August was married to retired baseball player Cecil Fielder, who ended up penniless after career earnings of about $47 million. August also is the mother of current Texas Rangers player Prince Fielder.