Northwestern Union: Football Players Unionizing?

    Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter is about to go down in NCAA history. Not for a record-breaking performance on the field, but for being the leader of a movement that will attempt to become the first organized union in college sports.

    At a news conference on Tuesday morning, Colter was joined by Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association.

    “Despite the progress NCPA has made, college athletes continue to be subject to unjust and unethical treatment in NCAA sports despite the extraordinary value they bring to their universities,” said Huma, a former linebacker at UCLA. “They’re too often left to pay for medical expenses during and after their college careers, they can be stripped of their scholarship for any reason, including injury.”

    Humus filed a petition in Chicago at the National Labor Relations Board's regional office to recognize their union which will be known as the College Athletes Players Association. At least 30 percent of employees, which equates to 27 Northwestern football players, need to be in favor of the union for the document to be filed.

    The players who signed the petition will not come further out of fear of reprisal from the NCAA or Northwestern. This saga should make for an interesting one to track in the coming days, weeks and months. In his news conference on Tuesday, Colter said they are willing to fight the NCAA on this issue all the way to the Supreme Court if it gets that far.

    NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy has issued a response to Colter's news conference and Northwestern's attempt to unionize its football players.

    “This union-backed attempt to turn student athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education,” Remy said. “Student athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize. Many student athletes are provided scholarships and many other benefits for their participation. There is no employment relationship between the NCAA, its affiliated institutions or student-athletes.”