In Hearing on Athlete Unionization, Northwestern Quarterback Makes Case

February 19, 2014

In National Labor Relations Board hearings on an unprecedented bid to form a union for college athletes Tuesday, the Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter testified that football is "a job,"  and said athletes' year-round athletic obligations come at the expense of academics. Colter, who majored in psychology, said his hopes of entering a pre-med program were quashed because of football time demands. "You fulfill the football requirement and, if you can, you fit in academics," Colter said, according to the Associated Press. "We are brought to the university to play football."

The NLRB's decision will hinge on whether athletes can be considered employees for their institutions, rather than just students. Colter co-founded the College Athletes Players Association, which seeks lobbying power on safety and financial issues. Testimony continues through this week, but the ruling is open to appeal and a final outcome is likely far off.

Also on Tuesday, Northwestern's lawyers suggested that football helped Colter -- a 3.2-grade point average student and Goldman Sachs intern -- educationally. "Northwestern is not a football factory," said Alex Barbour, a lawyer for the university.

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