Northwestern University Football Players Are Attempting To Unionize

The movement is led by one of the team’s quarterbacks and affiliated with an advocacy group founded by a former UCLA linebacker.

Jonathan Daniel / Getty

Kain Colter, Northwestern quarterback.

Northwestern football players have begun the process of applying to the National Labor Relations Board to form a union, ESPN’s Outside The Lines reports.

The players are receiving support from the United Steelworkers and a group called the National College Players Association, which was founded by former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma. Huma says an “overwhelming majority” of the team’s 85 scholarship players signed cards requesting union representation.

The players seek to create an entity called the College Athletes Players Association that would initially represent only football and basketball players and would not — at least not at first — advocate for college athletes to receive salaries.

Huma said the goals of the CAPA are the same as that of 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 multiyear 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.

The application to unionize “could take years to resolve,” ESPN writes, as Northwestern and the NCAA are expected to oppose the action.

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