A Little Birdie Says Northwestern Players Vote No on Unionizing

Published on 25-Apr-2014 by Stacey Mickles

Football - NCAA    NCAA Football Daily Update

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A Little Birdie Says Northwestern Players Vote No on Unionizing

In a slight upset, it appears Northwestern players voted no to unionizing.

It's kind of a surprise after all the hoopla about players wanting to form one.

Results of the official tally could still be weeks away, but word is circulating that of the scholarship athletes eligible to vote, 60 of them were of the negatory persuasion. Looks like exit polls happen at all levels:

Northwestern players vote no

Players got the green light a few weeks ago to do it and most thought it would happen, but I guess all the rhetoric out there scared some players off.

Northwestern is an elite academic institution along the likes of Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, and the Ivies. They recruit brainiacs because that's what their admission standards mandate. So, it's no wonder a few of them had time to philosophize, scrutinize, and ultimately publicize the union concept in a college sporting environment. It made for heavy discussions, the likes of which might have come from 300- and 400-level classrooms.

On the other side, one of those who had a lot to say about this was head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who made it known to his players that voting for a union would hurt more than help them.

“Understand that by voting to have a union, you would be transferring your trust from those you know — me, your coaches and the administrators here — to what you don’t know — a third party who may or may not have the team’s best interests in mind,” Fitzgerald said in an email to his team.

But deep inside, this is probably how Coach Fitzgerald would've liked to respond:

In other words, do this and your career as a football player is over.

Some believe a vote for yes also could have meant the end of Division I sports at Northwestern, so the pressure these players were feeling was considerable and understandable.

I can see both sides of the argument. On one hand, players are getting a free scholarship to a prominent institute of higher learning like Northwestern -- and don't think a diploma from there doesn't go a long ways -- but on the other hand, they can't share in the mega-revenues from playing football, which is a tough pill to swallow, especially those who are struggling financially.

And until players are ready to step up, the status quo will remain the same on campuses around the country, which is good news for the NCAA.