Kain Colter leading effort to create College Athletes Players Association

Kain Colter and other football players at Northwestern are spearheading the formation of a first-of-its-kind union for college athletes.
January 28, 2014 3:29:06 PM PST
Football players at Northwestern are spearheading the formation of a first-of-its-kind union for college athletes.

Outgoing Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter joined union leaders Tuesday in Chicago to announce the creation of the College Athletes Players Association.

Northwestern football fans are used to seeing their graduating quarterback on the field, leading his team. But on Tuesday, Kain Colter took a stand for college football players everywhere, saying it's time NCAA football and basketball players be recognized as employees with collective bargaining rights.

"The goal is to give players a voice. Right now we don't have a voice. Right now it's almost like a dictatorship," said Colter.

Backing the college football players bid is the United Steel Workers Union. Along with the newly-created College Athletes Players Association, they insist, that players, who on average already spend more than forty hours a week working on their sport, deserve the same protections other workers get under the law, including workers compensation and medical coverage.

"At the end of the day if you get hurt in school colors, just because someone labels you an amateur doesn't mean you shouldn't be taken care of for that particular injury," said Ramogi Huma, College Athletes Players Association.

In a statement released earlier, the NCAA says they reject the college athletes attempt to organize: "This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary."

ESPN Legal Analyst Lester Munson says for now that law is on the NCAA's side, but that might soon change.

"There are already bills in the US Congress that will reclassify student athletes as employees and will begin to give them the benefits that any other employee would have. But for now they are students first and foremost," said Munson.

The first step is to apply for certification by the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of Northwestern football players. The hope is to be successful, then look toward other schools.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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