Article Brief

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules Northwestern football players can’t unionize for now. The door is still open, but this delay keeps players at risk!

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced its ruling today that it will not exercise its jurisdiction in the Northwestern football players unionization effort.  This ruling does not close the door on the option for college athletes at private schools to unionize but it takes away this option for Northwestern football players at this time.  The Board was clear that the decision only affects Northwestern football players and does not prevent players from other private schools from attempting to unionize.

“This is not a loss, but it is a loss of time.  It delays players securing the leverage they need to protect themselves from traumatic brain injury, sports-related medical expenses, and other gaps in protections.” - Ramogi Huma, NCPA Executive Director and CAPA President

"The ruling is disappointing because it imposes a delay in this issue, but I am proud of my teammates for standing up for justice.  Their courage has provided a national platform to expose gaps in player protections and pressure colleges and conferences to take steps toward better health coverage, four-year scholarships, concussion reform, and even stipends.  The fight for justice will continue and college athletes everywhere should take note. A few dozen 18-21 year-old Northwestern football players joined together to challenge an unjust system and are forcing change.  It's simple. As players stand up, injustice falls down." - Kain Colter, Former Northwestern football player

Thanks to college athletes like Kain Colter, the Northwestern football players and CAPA, who courageously stood up against injustice, the entire country is aware and can begin to understand that college athletes deserve a greater voice and basic protections.

College athletes are at risk and subject to brain trauma and we can't afford to have more incidents like the suicide of Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge or have coaches keeping players in the game with concussion symptoms like Michigan did last season with Shane Morris.

Under NCAA rules, players can be stuck with sports-related medical expenses, lose their scholarship when they are injured, are exposed to unnecessary risk of traumatic brain injury, and face a Federal Graduation Rate of approximately 50% in football and men’s basketball.  This unionization effort comes after more than a decade of NCAA sports fighting against these reforms. 

The fight continues and we are more determined than ever to fight for basic protections for ALL college athletes. As players stand up, injustice falls down.