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Report: Northwestern football players take first step towards unionization

Jan 28, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

Kain Colter

This doesn’t have anything to do with basketball, or even basketball players, but according to a report from Tom Farrey, a reporter for ESPN.com’s Outside The Lines, Northwestern football players have filed the paperwork to request to be represented by a union.

In other words, they are formally requesting to be identified as employees.

Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, filed the petition on behalf of the players on the team.

Some more details, from Farrey:

The formal entity that would represent the players, if certified by the NLRB, is called the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA). It was created by Huma, [Kain] Colter and Luke Bonner, a former U-Mass basketball player and brother of NBA player Matt Bonner, with technical support from the United Steelworkers, who will not receive union dues from players, said Huma, who is registered as president of the organization.

[...]

Huma said the goals of the CAPA is the same as the NCPA. The group has pressed for better concussion and other medical protections, and for scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance.

Having already successfully advocated for the creation of multi-year scholarships, it now would like those scholarships to be guaranteed even if a player is no longer able to continue for injury or medical reasons. The group has also called for a trust fund that players could tap into after their NCAA eligibility expires to finish schooling or be rewarded for finishing schooling.

If the name Kain Colter sounds familiar, it’s because he was one of the first players to write #APU — All Players United — on his wristbands during a game.

It will be interesting to see where this leads, as the outcome could end up heavily affecting all collegiate athletes, not just football players. One of the biggest criticisms of the NCAA is that the talent — the athletes on the court and on the field — that is generating the revenue aren’t receiving adequate reimbursement and that they don’t have enough representation to properly make a push for change.

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