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Report: Northwestern Players Unionize

According to an ESPN Outside the Lines story, Northwestern players could be on the way to causing a historic change in the NCAA. The report noted that "an overwhelming majority" of NU players — led by former quarterback Kain Colter —  signed the petition, which was filed by National College Players Association President Ramogi Huma.

On their website, the players listed what they want:

CAPA will ultimately allow players to collectively bargain for comprehensive reform such as:

  • Guaranteed coverage for sports-related medical expenses for current and former players.
  • Minimizing the risk of sports-related traumatic brain injury.  Reduce contact in practices like the NFL and Pop Warner have done, place independent concussion experts on the sidelines, and establish uniform return to play protocols.
  • Improving graduation rates.  Establish an educational trust fund to help former players complete their degree and reward those who graduate on time.
  • Consistent with evolving NCAA regulations or future legal mandates, increasing athletic scholarships and allowing players to receive compensation for commercial sponsorships.
  • Securing due process rights.  Players should not be punished simply because they are accused of a rule violation, and any punishments levied should be consistent across campuses.

These goals are similar to those of the APU movement, which Colter joined this fall:

“There needs to be a guarantee that players are not stuck with medical bills after they leave,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Essentially they are being hurt on the job. With all the TV revenue being generated, they could use a portion to help the players if they need surgery down the line. There needs to be a trust fund generated, not direct compensation, that players can access after they graduate. That would create an incentive for graduation rates to rise.”

Colter will speak at a news conference at 11:30 today and seems to be the voice of the current players.

It's unclear where Pat Fitzgerald and the Northwestern administration stand on the issue. They said that they will have no comment on the situation at this time, but Fitzgerald has a press conference next Wednesday for National Signing Day, so he will certainly be faced with questions then.

Fitzgerald was opposed to Colter's decision to make a statement on his own through APU, and while he is supportive of amateurism and the NCAA's overall premise, he has also pushed for a graduation trust and an increased stipend for players. Whether he supports this movement is still unclear.

We'll have much more coverage later.

Here is a video of Colter in September discussing student-athlete welfare:

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