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NCAA football team trying to unionize

NCAA football team trying to unionize

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A group of college athletes is looking to get paid for what they do. Northwestern University in Chicago is currently in talks with its own athletes about labor unions.

This union would only be for Northwestern football. It would be the first of its kind and if one school allows a union other schools may be forced to follow.

Former Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter has nothing against his alma mater.

"The goal is to give players a voice, right now we don't have a voice," Colter said.

Colter just wants his former team to have a few more rights.

"It's almost like a dictatorship where everything is put on us without our input, without our negotiation. Right now we just want a seat at the table," Colter said.

The group behind the labor union is asking for stipends, guaranteed medical coverage to current and former players, more concussion prevention and compensation for sponsorships.

 I think it's an interesting move on their part. I don't think it's entirely surprising," Josh Whitman, UW-La Crosse athletic director, said.

Whitman played division 1 football at the University of Illinois he doesn't imagine labor unions moving into division 2 or division 3.

"You know scholarships if you were to think about a football roster with 110 guys you know of that 110 only 5 or 10 of them probably are truly worth more to the university then the value of the scholarship that they're already receiving," Whitman said.

Whitman thinks divisions 2 and 3 and even smaller d-1 schools would have a tough time paying their athletes.

"If all of the sudden it becomes mandated that they provide 10 years of health care or some sort of post career health care or provide some enhanced stipend or payment to their athletes that's going to be a big problem for them," Whitman said.

But whether or not the union goes into effect, Whitman imagines some changes.

"I think that over the next two to four years you're going to see some fairly dynamic changes within the way the NCAA athletics is operated," Whitman said.

Whitman also said to me that he didn't feel he deserved to be paid when he was a student-athlete. He said the trick will be to figure out how to compensate the 10-15 student-athletes who truly generate money for their institution and still be fair to the other 95 percent of the student-athletes.

All this week there has been a hearing in front of the National Labor Relations Board. There is no timeline for any decisions or changes.

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