Northwestern players could unionize

The National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the players Wednesday.

Dane Mizutani

Northwestern football players took a big step toward potential compensation for college athletes Wednesday when the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the group can officially unionize as it sees fit.

The ruling represents uncharted territory for college athletics. Though it has no direct implications on student-athletes at Minnesota, it opens the door to similar cases in the future.

Wildcats players — namely, former quarterback Kain Colter — made a push toward being recognized as employees a few months ago.

In the ruling, NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr cited the players’ time commitment as a major reason to permit the right to unionize.

If Northwestern players decide to form a labor union, it would be the first of its kind in college athletics.

This ruling again ignites the old debate about whether college athletes should be paid. There are many who argue that players should be paid because they bring in millions of dollars to their respective colleges. Still, the other side argues that players get paid in the form of scholarships and any additional funds would ruin amateurism.

Northwestern officials issued a statement Wednesday after the ruling and said they plan to appeal the decision.

“While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director’s opinion, we disagree with it,” the statement said. “Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students.”

In recent years, the NCAA made a push to provide student-athletes with a $2,000 stipend, but the idea never came to fruition.