It all began in the Spring of 2013, when Kain Colter wrote a long message into a comment box on the website of the National College Players Association. That message found its way to the inbox of Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA linebacker, a prominent advocate for the rights of college athletes, and the president of the NCPA.
At the time, nobody knew of the newly-formed alliance between Colter and Huma. Over the next two-plus years, Colter and Huma were near the forefront of the battle for change in college athletics.
With the NLRB finally ruling on Northwestern's appeal, and with the unionization effort now quashed, here's a look at the events of the past two and a half years that comprise CAPA and the Northwestern players' movement:
Timeline: Colter, CAPA, Northwestern and the NLRB
Spring 2013 - Kain Colter reaches out to Ramogi Huma, the President of the National College Players Association, to discuss conditions and rights of college athletes.
Summer, Fall 2013 - Between the time of Colter's original contact with Huma and the founding of CAPA, Colter and other players around the country regularly spoke on conference calls.
Sept. 21, 2013 - In Northwestern's third game of the 2013 season against Maine, Colter, along with other players at NU and around the country, wears black wristbands with the letters "APU," which stand for "All Players United," written in white.
Jan. 25-26, 2014 - The weekend before the news breaks, Huma and Colter meet with Northwestern players, and, according to ESPN and Huma, an "overwhelming majority" sign union cards.
Jan. 28, 2014 - As first reported by ESPN's Outside the Lines, Huma, Colter and Luke Bonner found CAPA, the College Athletes Players Association, and file a petition and union cards signed by an undisclosed number of Northwestern players to the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago.
Jan. 29, 2014 - The following day, our Josh Rosenblat spoke to Bernie Baum, former NFLPA lawyer, about the logistics of the union movement.
Jan. 30, 2014 - Two days after the announcement, Kevin Trahan interviewed former NLRB chairman William Gould, who believed Colter and CAPA had a strong case.
Feb. 18, 2014 - The hearings begin. On the first day, Kain Colter takes the stand, and he testifies, among other things, that football is a job. Huma and Colter disseminate a document, which shows the players' schedule for a given week, to demonstrate how much of an athlete's time is consumed by football.
Feb. 19, 2014 - On day two of the hearings, a couple of key testimonies are heard. David Berri, a sports economist, argues that football players are being exploited because football makes money for the university, but athletes' compensation is capped at the value of a scholarship. Northwestern associate athletic director Brian Baptiste testifies for NU, and says that many of the responsibilities on the schedule brought forth by Colter on Tuesday are voluntary.
Feb. 20, 2014 - On the third day, Janna Blais, Northwestern's deputy director of athletics/student-athlete welfare, takes the stand and argues that academics never override football, which contradicts Colter's Tuesday testimony. NU also uses Steven Green, the athletic department's CFO, as a witness. Green downplays the profitability of the football program.
Feb. 21, 2014 - On the fourth day, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald spends three hours at the witness stand testifying against his own players. One of the key questions is Fitzgerald's policy on dismissing players and pulling their scholarships, and whether the scholarship is contingent on performance.
Feb. 22, 2014 - On the fifth and final day of the hearings, three former NU players testify on behalf of Northwestern and dispute some of Colter's earlier claims about academic restrictions for football players. One player, however, does admit that the scholarship is based on football.
March 17, 2014 - Both Northwestern and CAPA file briefs to the NLRB to summarize and reiterate their arguments made during the hearing.
March 26, 2014 - On arguably the biggest day of the unionization movement, NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr rules that Northwestern players are employees of the university and do in fact have the right to unionize. Ohr would later tell the Chicago Tribune that the decision was "not difficult."
April 5, 2014 - For the first time since the union decision, Pat Fitzgerald talks to the media about how he is handling the situation, and specifically about how he is "educating" his players ahead of their impending vote on April 25. He explicitly states that he is anti-union.
April 9, 2014 - Northwestern, as expected, officially announces its intention to appeal the NLRB's decision that its football players are its employees. It files a brief to the NLRB national board that refutes the 24-page ruling made by Ohr.
April 17, 2014 - Former Northwestern football player Kevin Brown, along with other NU alumni, found an advocacy group called the Collegiate Alumni Athletes for Change, also known as Game Changers. The announcement comes after a reportedly heated meeting the previous evening that included over 60 current and former Northwestern athletes. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss student-athletes' rights in light of the unionization movement.
April 24, 2014 - The NLRB announces that it will hear Northwestern's appeal.
April 25, 2014 - Northwestern players vote on unionization. The scene is surreal, as media members fruitlessly gather outside of Ryan Field only to see Northwestern players pass by and refuse to comment. The vote is taken, but because the appeal is pending, the results are impounded.
May 7, 2014 - The House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee convenes a congressional hearing to review the NLRB's decision in the Northwestern case. The House panel hears the arguments of anti-unionization witnesses, and discusses the merits of college athletes and unions.
Oct. 1, 2014 - The Big Ten issues a statement that says it has notified the NCAA of plans to improve medical insurance and guarantee multi-year scholarships. This is not a direct response to the Northwestern case, but adresses a few of the areas in which Colter wanted to see change.
Aug. 17, 2015 - The NLRB's National Board rules against CAPA, ending the unionization movement.