Posted March 27, 2014 by Devon Watkis in Sports

Northwestern Football Team Wins Petition to Unionize. [Details]

In one of the biggest stories in college athletics the Northwestern Wildcats football team now qualify as employees of Northwestern University and are allowed to form a union. Why is this important, because it is the first step to having college athletes being paid.

The ruling was brought down on Wednesday by the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board.

According to ESPN.com,

NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr cited the players’ time commitment to their sport and the fact that their scholarships were tied directly to their performance on the field as reasons for granting them union rights.

Ohr wrote in his ruling that the players “fall squarely within the [National Labor Relations] Act’s broad definition of ’employee’ when one considers the common law definition of ’employee.'”

Ohr ruled that the players can hold a vote on whether they want to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association, which brought the case to the NLRB along with former Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter and the United Steelworkers union.

Colter voiced the grevences of the players this morning on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike

Colter made it clear that the decision is not to legalize pay for play but to allow for college players to have the voice in what goes on within the NCAA. He then went on to say that the number one issue that they want to try and tackle is health coverage for all athletes. Basically if you have to get surgery on your knee because of the sport you play you should be fully covered.

As big as this step is it, its only the tip of the iceberg. This is going to be a long battle with the NCAA and Northwestern both appealing this ruling saying that they disagree with the idea that their student athletes are employees of the school and they should not be paid.

This could potentially be the biggest thing to happen to college athletics. This could be the beginning of something great or could be the begging of the end for some sports programs.

Source: ESPN, Mike & Mike