Northwestern QB testifies before NLRB
CHICAGO - Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter testified yesterday that he was essentially paid to play via his scholarship as the National Labor Relations Board opened a closely watched hearing on a bid to form what would be the first union for college athletes in U.S. history.
From a witnesses stand in a federal court building, Colter characterized playing college football as a job and said schools make clear to incoming players that athletics are a higher priority than academics.
Colter, a co-founder of the newly formed College Athletes Players Association, said players adhere to grueling schedules, putting in 40- to 50-hour weeks on football during and before the season. During August training, he said, players wake at 8 a.m. and often only finish practice at 10 p.m.
"It's a job, there is no way around it - it's a job," said Colter, a 21-year-old senior whose college career is over.
Asked why Northwestern gave him a scholarship of $75,000 a year, he responded: "To play football. To perform an athletic service." Later, he said players earn the money, in part, "by sacrificing our bodies."
Whether the players qualify under federal law as employees is the core question for the NLRB to answer. If they are deemed employees, they would have rights to unionize. Whatever ruling the panel makes can be appealed.