The NCPA calls on Northwestern to commission independent investigations and make the details public. Says employees status would empower college athletes to pursue workplace protections.
The allegations at Northwestern University of sexualized hazing of football players, racism directed at minority football players, and of the head baseball coach dissuading his players from seeking medical treatment and otherwise mistreated athletes are serious.
The NCPA is calling on Northwestern to take the following actions:
1. Commission an independent investigation into new allegations of racist environment, remarks and actions being directed by both a coach and football players at football players who are minorities.
2. Commission an independent investigation into allegations that its head baseball coach dissuaded players from seeking medical treatment and otherwise mistreated athletes.
3. Make public the details of all investigations into these matters. Recruits deserve to know whether any action the university has taken will be effective in ensuring a safe and healthy environment should they decide to play sports for Northwestern.
The NCAA does not enforce any rules to address serious injury, sexual abuse, or even death. Instead, it claims colleges can address these issues by “self-policing”. The NCPA has called for mandatory health and safety standards since 2001, when Northwestern football player Rashidi Wheeler died in a summer workout. Northwestern eventually settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Wheeler's mother.
The NCPA has successfully worked with state and federal lawmakers to introduce legislation that would establish and enforce safety standards, require mandated reporting of violations, and provide whistleblower protections. The goal of establishing health and safety was a key reason for Northwestern football players’ 2014 unionization effort, an effort that head football Coach Pat Fitzgerald opposed. Northwestern fired coach Fitzgerald in the wake of the public fallout over the hazing allegations.
The NCPA's goal of establishing and enforcing health and safety standards is also at the center of the NCPA’s current unfair labor practice charges against USC, the Pac-12, and the NCAA as joint employers. The NCPA filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to empower football and basketball players at private Division I colleges through classification as employees. The NLRB trial for these charges has been set for November.