Northwestern loses to UC Berkley, first game since union OK

Northwestern loses to UC Berkley 31 to 24 in its first game since a regional National Labor Relations Board said players could be considered employees.
By Danielle Haynes  |  Aug. 30, 2014 at 7:12 PM
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EVANSTON, Ill., Aug. 30 (UPI) -- The Northwestern football team is going to have to do a little better than this if they want to prove they should be considered employees of the school, after losing Saturday to UC Berkley.

Northwestern University lost its season-opener to University of California, Berkeley, 31 to 24, at home at Ryan Field in Evanston. Northwestern was largely expected to win Saturday's game.

It was the Wildcats first game since a regional National Labor Relations Board ruled players can be recognized as employees of the school, a landmark decision that could change the future landscape of college football.

The process to unionize was started in January by a group of student-athletes led by former Wildcat quarterback — and current Minnesota Viking — Kain Colter.

"The action we're taking isn't because of any mistreatment by Northwestern," Colter said in January. "We love Northwestern."

"The school is just playing by the rules of their governing body, the NCAA. We're interested in trying to help all players -- at USC, Stanford, Oklahoma State, everywhere. It's about protecting them and future generations to come. Right now the NCAA is like a dictatorship. No one represents us in negotiations. The only way things are going to change is if players have a union," he added.

Colter and others in support of the move, argue college athletes shouldn't be saddled with sports-related medical bills, shouldn't lose scholarships due to injuries and should be given better opportunities to complete their college degrees.

Northwestern football players voted in April whether to proceed with unionizing, but the vote has been kept secret pending a decision by the national NLRB on an appeal filed by Northwestern.

Opponents of student-athlete unions, like House Education and Workforce Committee Chair John Klein, R-Minn., said collective bargaining could throw practices and game schedules into chaos, and put schools at risk of the possibility of player strikes.

"No student athlete injured while representing their school on the field should be left behind because of the misplaced priorities of a college or university," Klein said. "Does that mean unionizing student athletes is the answer? Absolutely not."

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