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Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The National Labor Relations Board has ruled 
that Northwestern football players are employees of the university and should 
therefore be entitled to be represented in collective bargaining. 

The  ruling Wednesday  by regional NLRB director Peter Sung Ohr opens the door 
for  the players to unionize in what could be a landscape-changing decision in 
college athletics. 

Northwestern said it was "disappointed" by the ruling and plans to appeal. 

"Northwestern  believes  strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, 
but  students,"  the school said.  "Unionization and collective bargaining are 
not  the  appropriate methods  to  address  the  concerns raised  by  student- 

The NCAA also expressed its disappointment in the ruling. 

"We  strongly  disagree with the  notion that student-athletes are employees," 
the NCAA's chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement. 

"We  frequently  hear from  student-athletes,  across  all sports,  that  they 
participate  to  enhance their overall college  experience and for the love of 
their sport, not to be paid. 

"Over  the last  three years, our member colleges and universities have worked 
to  re-evaluate  the current rules. While  improvements need to be made, we do 
not  need to completely throw away a system that has helped literally millions 
of students over the past decade alone attend college. 

"We  want  student athletes --  99 percent  of whom will  never make it to the 
professional leagues -- focused on what matters most -- finding success in the 
classroom, on the field and in life." 

Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, who helped bring the petition to 
the  labor board  with the  College  Athletes Players  Association (CAPA)  and 
United  Steelworkers,  called  the  decision  "a  huge  win  for  all  college 

Ohr  wrote  that Northwestern  football players on  scholarship should vote on 
whether or not they want to be represented in collective bargaining by CAPA. 

He  said players receiving grant-in-aid scholarships fall under the common-law 
definition of employees. 

The  case has  taken its place in  the discussion over whether or not athletes 
should  be paid  for  their part  in the  increasingly  lucrative business  of 
college athletics. 

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