Coach Testifies At Hearing To Decide If Student-Athletes Are Employees

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

The head football coach at Northwestern was called to testify Friday at a hearing in Chicago on his team's bid to form the nation's first college athletes' union.

Pat Fitzgerald took the stand on the fourth day of a National Labor Relations Board hearing, saying the school wants players "to be the best they can be ... athletically, academically, socially."

Fitzgerald disputed his quarterback over whether the team can form the nation's first union for college athletes. He spoke on behalf of Northwestern, which opposes the unionization bid.

Senior Kain Colter testified this week that a union would protect students and said nearly all of 85 scholarship football players on Fitzgerald's team support the union drive. He said the school didn't' make academics a top priority for football players.

Fitzgerald disagreed, saying Northwestern makes academics central to a player's experience. And while Colter testified he never heard a coach tell a player to leave practice and study, Fitzgerald said that does happen.

The first-of-its kind effort is being closely watched by colleges nationwide. The NCAA and Northwestern have maintained that its student-athletes are not "employees." Employees would have the legal right to unionize.

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