Sports

Jan 30, 2014 8:36 PM by John Patrick

College athletes ready to unionize

CHICAGO - In a first for college sports a group of university athletes is asking to form a union.

The President of the National College Players Association has filed a petition on behalf of some Northwestern University football players with the National Labor Relations Board.

The movement started with former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, who wants to change the way college athletes are represented and the conditions in which they play.

Former University of Arizona linebacker LaMonte Hunley says it's about time something is being done as he remembers some of the hardships he went through back in his days with the university.

"There were times when I had to send part of my scholarship back home to make sure things were taken care of there," says Hunley.

If the College Athlete Players Association is certified by the National Labor Relations Board the group will not work to line the pockets of college athletes but ensure scholarships will cover the full cost of attendance.

"Once you collectively get together you've got one voice versus many," says Hunley.

The National College Players Association lists 11 main goals on their website with minimizing college athletes' brain trauma risks and preventing players from being stuck paying sports-related medical expenses topping the list.

Hunley says, "There is no way you can make everyone happy in this particular situation but at least you can put something there in regards to letting kids know what they can expect."

UA Athletic Director Gregory Byrne released this statement on the subject today:

"We are all for continuing giving all 450 of our student athletes the best experience possible socially, academically and athletically. It is too early to tell the ramifications from Northwestern University."

The NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy responded in part by saying:

"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."

The National College Players Association will be represented by the United SteelWorkers Union which will not receive union dues from the players.

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