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Sports

March 28, 2014

Unionization court ruling comes at bad time for NCAA

(Continued)

Add in revelations like Florida coach Billy Donovan’s new $3.7 million-a-year contract and the $18,000 bonus that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith got for one of the school’s wrestlers winning an NCAA title, and some are frustrated with the NCAA’s contention that everything it does is done for the benefit of athletes who play for the glory of their school.

“Fifty years ago the NCAA invented the term student-athlete to try and make sure this day never came,” said former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma, the designated president of Northwestern’s would-be football players’ union. “Northwestern players who stood up for their rights took a giant step for justice. It’s going to set a precedent for college players across the nation to do the same.”

The players currently at Northwestern may have already graduated by the time the team gets a chance to bargain — if it ever does.

According to federal law, Northwestern football players have 30 days from Wednesday’s decision to vote on whether to authorize the College Athletes Players Association, or CAPA, to represent them. But Northwestern is expected to appeal the landmark ruling to the National Labor Relations Board by an April 9 deadline, potentially stalling the union vote. The NCAA is also likely to continue to fight the description of college athletes as employees.

“We frequently hear from student-athletes, across all sports, that they participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the love of their sport, not to be paid,” the NCAA said in a statement.

It was that love of the sport that drew outgoing Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter — as well as a scholarship worth up to about $75,000 annually. But Colter, backed by lawyers with the United Steelworkers union, began the union push after growing disenchanted with the time demands placed on him in football that forced him to drop his plans to go to medical school.

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