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"Game Changers" Announce Blueprint for College Athletics

The Collegiate Alumni Athletes for Change, also known as "Game Changers," announced their blueprint for national standard for scholarship athletes in revenue producing sports at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

The Game Changers, which consists of Northwestern University alumni and former athletes from six different eras, stated in a media release that the group "formed out of a concern for the equity and well being of scholarship athletes of revenue producing sports at Northwestern University." Letters handed out by the Game Changers at the press conference outlined their 10 point blueprint for change.

The very first principle in the blueprint is to "expand player sports related medical benefits." The Game Changers' media contact Kevin Brown stated that Northwestern's current medical coverage only extends one year past graduation. The Game Changers would not go into specifics on how far they want medical coverage to be expanded because they don't want to break down further dialogue with the university.

Giving players the option to return to school anytime to complete their degree without cost, expanding and guaranteeing athletic scholarships beyond four years and providing a free graduate school option make up points 2 and 3 of the Game Changers' blueprint. Many of the points in the blueprint would be potential benefits from a union. However, the Game Changers maintained that they were not taking a stance on the union debate.

The blueprint calls for the university to provide transportation allowance to and from home during holidays, at the end and beginning of the school year and for parents to attend two home games. Point 7 of the blueprint calls to "increase the living stipend to include personal and misc. expenses." The NCAA previously proposed a $2000 stipend for student-athletes to use on miscellaneous expenses, such as travel, but it received criticism from schools across the country and was suspended.

Other principles in the blueprint suggest to "create deferred trust accounts for endorsement and marketing deals that can be used after graduation" and "endow fund to subsidize employment for Summer Career Pathways Internship Program." The final points in the blueprint called for surveys to make sure players' needs are met, providing players with resources to voice their interests and creating a committee, which would include Game Changers representatives and current players, that finds ways to provide the best protections for players.

The Game Changers' letter also praises Kain Colter for continuing Northwestern's history of student activism. "In making his case to organize a union for the Northwestern University Football Team, Mr. Colter continues a Northwestern tradition, and has embarked upon a historic quest to obtain both a voice and a seat at the table of self-determination for college scholarship athletes," the letter states.

Kevin Brown, Rick Telander, Mike Adamle, Alex Moyer and Todd Jenkins were among the Game Changers in attendance. They said that they want to meet with representatives of university administration as soon as possible and that they believe Northwestern is in a unique position to lead since it is a private university. While many of the principles in the blueprint are out of the university's hands, such as stipends and marketing deals, some of their changes could be made directly by the university.

The Game Changers said that this is not explicitly about Northwestern, but also creating a national standard and benchmark for revenue producing sports. "There are things that Northwestern could do better and they could lead the way in this reform," Rick Telander said, "I think Kain Colter is going to go down in collegiate history as a game changer."