Sports
5:51 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Group praises football union decision

Backers of an effort to unionize Northwestern University football players are praising a federal agency's landmark ruling that says the players are employees under federal law and can form the nation's first college athletes' union.  But the NCAA says it’s “disappointed” by this week’s ruling from a National Labor Relations Board regional director in Chicago.

Ramogi Huma, who played football for UCLA in the 1990s, heads the College Athletes Players Association, the group representing the Northwestern football players. In an interview last month, Huma predicted that whatever the outcome from the NLLB regional director, the case would be appealed by the losing side at each level to the NLRB in Washington, and then to the courts.

HUMA: “So this can definitely take a while. And, you know, the players at Northwestern understand that. We told them, look, you might not ever be able to directly benefit from this. But this is for kind of the greater good, you know, the generations that come after you.  They rose to the challenge.“

In their response to Wednesday's ruling, the NCAA says improvements for college athletes are needed, but that student-athletes play “for the love of their sport, not to be paid.” During his Focus appearance last month, Huma said Northwestern players are NOT seeking to be paid, but need a union so they can negotiate better terms for scholarships and medical care.