Oct 12, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald answers questions from the media following the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 35-6. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald urges players not to form union


Members of the Northwestern Wildcats football team are to participate in a secret ballot later this month to determine whether or not they will form a union. Their coach, Pat Fitzgerald, thinks it would be a bad idea and has urged his players to vote no.

The right to form a union and election eligibility was handed last month by Peter Ohr, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, when he ruled that Northwestern scholarship football players were employees and eligible to unionize and bargain with the school over issues such as expanded medical care and practice schedules.

From a New York Times report, coach Fitzgerald has openly told his players that he doesn’t think it will be to their advantage.

“I believe it’s in their best interest to vote no,” Fitzgerald said after a spring practice. “I just do not believe we need a third party between our players and our coaches, staff and administrators. Whatever they need, we’ll get them.”

It’s being reported that there is no real majority in either direction coming from players who have spoken about the vote, which could be a sign that the solidarity of the players is either falling apart, or was never really there in the first place. Some have questioned the actual motives behind the movement to unionize.

Perhaps the most sobering comments came from senior wide receiver, Kyle Prater, who is leaning towards voting no.

“As a team, we feel there are things that need to be addressed in college football and amongst players with the NCAA,” Prater said. “But we don’t feel it should be us versus Northwestern.”

You can read here why the idea of a union may not be the best path for players to bring about change, but how the right to do it may have already put the wheels of change in motion.

Tags: NCAA Football Northwestern Wildcats Pat Fitzgerald Players Union