NFLPA backs efforts of college players to unionize


When it comes to the issue of “amateur” college athletes earning millions for everyone but themselves, the next wave has arrived.  According to, Northwestern’s football program has commenced efforts to unionize.

The National College Players Association has filed with the National Labor Relations Board a petition on behalf the Northwestern players. The move means that at least 30 percent of the players have signed union cards.

It’s a bold move, which surely will spawn litigation over whether the players represent a legally-recognizable labor unit. If the players prevail — and if a majority of them ultimately vote in favor of unionization, Northwestern will have to bargain with the players as employees, which surely will include paying them.

Whatever transpires, the NFL Players Association supports the effort, via resolution passed by its Board of Player Representatives: “Resolved, that the NFLPA pledges its support to the National Collegiate Players Association (NCPA) and its pursuit of basic rights and protections for future NFLPA members.”

We support the effort, too.  While college football players get an “education,” the wholesale cost of absorbing an extra body into the broader university mechanism pales in comparison to what the football program brings to the university.  The players deserve more for the physical risks they take, and we applaud them for having the courage to pursue it.

We also encourage other players at other school to do the same.

92 responses to “NFLPA backs efforts of college players to unionize

  1. Good idea. Lord knows that a free college education along with a $200 a month stipend isn’t enough. Poor kids.

  2. Hopefully the union will encompass more than the football team. It’s the peripheral sports (ie. fencing, gymnastics, etc.) that are hurt the most by the NCAA regulations. The athletes participating in those sports don’t really have much to look forward to on the professional level. The highest level they may be able to achieve is the Olympics. Yet, the NCAA won’t let these students get jobs.

  3. of course they support it.. once the teams start paying players, the NFL doesn’t have to bother with this delicate little dance it’s been having to do with the NCAA & it can start plucking the next Clowneys out of college asap

  4. Although sure there are tons of kids getting a college education for “free”, I believe that there needs to be some sort of lifetime healthcare provided for injuries sustained during the years played. Maybe this should just be for division 1 only, considering the big money in those schools. Maybe others should be involved too, although I’m sure some schools don’t even break even with their football program.

    These schools are making way too much money to give their players that little. Especially considering a lot of them aren’t even getting their education.

  5. Great.
    – First order of business, pay for your own education then. See how long a union idea lasts when the 80% who have no professional future as an athelete realize they aren’t getting anything and are paying for their education so the elite can be done in two years and off to the pros.
    – Then add a squeeze that the elite who make it to the NFL need to repay a percentage of their contract for the added exposure the university provided them to showcase their talent. This should leave a group to bypass colleege completely and challenge the professional sports (and their union) rules requiring one or two years AFTER high school to enter.
    – Oh, be sure to charge students for tickets to accomodate the increase in the cost to maintain the payroll for the atheletes. Besides, most programs on campus operate at a loss beyond football. So the short-fall has to come from somewhere. That should make the campus environment real pleasant for athletes – not to mention empty the arenas and boost the opportunity to sell tickets at a higher price to people on the street and alumni. If they care anymore since the game atmosphere will be a fraction of what it is today.

    In short, the “atheletes” are using the univesities as much as they are being “used” by them … when will that reality set in for the majority of student athletes? The elite few, who are most guilty of using the campuses as show cases for themselves and leave early anyway, are bent on screwing up the system.

  6. Go ahead. Then the colleges can take away the scholarships and pay students minimum wage for the hours they are in school or at practice. See how far that takes you!!!

  7. The fact is that most teams don’t make a windfall on players. Players will go to the highest bidder. If colleges are forced to pay players, then look for a bunch of programs dropping football or many other college sports programs to be dropped. Everyone will be poorer, financially and culturally, for it.

  8. If they want to be considered employees then I hope they’re prepared to starting paying taxes on all of their compensation, including scholarships.

  9. NCAA had this coming for a long time, good for these kids…

    For anyone interested in this subject I highly recommend the documentary “Schooled: The Price of College Sports”

  10. if it means they get a little more money (based allowence) that equal to inflationand are able to eat each month and get a free education to play games.

    Im all for it!

  11. The simple fact is the NCAA is a place where young athletes perform for million and billionaires, for national tv networks and all the products that are sold during their broadcasts, and have absolutely no say whatsover in their conditions.

    It’s a hornets nets to get into specifics, but if what you do makes other people money, and major institutions depend on your work, it is a basic human right to be able to negotiate. Even minimum wage workers have labor laws that protect them. The only thing protecting these kids are the people making money off of them and fundamentally that is not right.

  12. Simple solution – keep everything as it is (no pay for players, get things based off scholarships and so on) but allow the players to make money off themselves. If a player wants to charge for an autograph session, let them. Most importantly, give players a cut of what the University makes DIRECTLY off them. If Ohio State sells a #5 Ohio State jersey, give part of the money earned to Braxton Miller. Just put his name on the jersey anyways – we all know who that is. The most ridiculous thing is that the NCAA can make money off the players, but the players can’t make money off themselves as individuals.

  13. If they unionize ..

    They must be paid as employees

    Then they are no longer student athletes.

    If they aren’t student athletes they can no longer receive scholarships or play for the college football team which requires them to be amateurs.

    It would certainly be fun to watch everything implode.

  14. Go for it. I mean seriously GO! The revolution will not be televised if the status quo is maintained. These kids can’t work and are told, “You have a scholarship, shut up and take it,” and that is a buch of balogna. All of the major schools need to do it because they NEED the players to make these record profits. They need the stars to step up because they can cut the 72 man on the team with no problem, but the star QB…wait a minute.

    I’m rooting for them to do what needed to have been done years ago while their likenesses were all over NCAA Football and Basketball. Good for them.

  15. Why am I not surprised? This union is ruining the sport at the professional level. They may as well see if they can screw up the college level just as bad.

  16. Well I guess the union is trying to kill college football, it’s already killed the US auto industry, US steel manufacturing, US glass making, in fact just about every factory job of US made products have been killed by unions, may as well kill off college football too.

  17. If they get paid then they lose their eligibility as they aren’t amateurs any longer. Is that correct?

    I love all the people typing “stick it to the NCAA” what a joke. Who do you think will pay the student athletes? The other programs that the football program’s revenue supports. The student/fans that go to game (eg higher ticket prices).

    The NCAA and the schools will still make their money. The costs will be pushed to the consumer, etc.

    Just like with lawsuits.

  18. Good. As long as scholarships are repaid from the funds the student-athletes are paid this would finally put an end to the current system which makes huge profits for ADs at the expense of the kids who are playing.

  19. What a joke. Free college education, free room and board. Free tutors. Free gym. Free trainers, free doctors, free therepy. If this “Union” happens, then I’d like to see all scholarships revoked and these students can pay their own tuition.

    Unions are a joke in this day in age. Want to fix the economy…abolish unions and their pensions

  20. Why do people think the full scholarship is not payment enough. Considering how many NFL players or NBA players go banrupt, maybe if they went to class they’d save their money

  21. They are not a labor force so good luck with that.

    Unions have done some good initially but they have ultimately destroyed every industry they touch. This would be no different.

  22. vikingdoode says: Jan 28, 2014 11:48 AM

    if it means they get a little more money (based allowence) that equal to inflationand are able to eat each month and get a free education to play games.


    Screw that – if they get paid because of a union, they university should pull all scholarships….make them pay to go to school there. Then the players are paying to play.

    See how they like that

  23. These are not workers. They’re college students. Even the illiterate ones. If they want to unionize, then they should not be allowed to play college football. If they want to start their own junior league, put rules together, work on a TV package, get paid, and have a union, good for them. But they should not be allowed to play for their universities.

    Most of these kids are just typical millenials who think the world owes them everything on a silver platter.

  24. College athletes should not be paid and will not be paid. First, who’s going to pay them? College athletic departments. Most major college athletic departments lose money–and of course the football and basketball revenues finance all the non-revenue sports at universities. You pay the football players you have to play the baseball players and the soccer players. You’re talking a massive can of worms.

  25. thehouseofho says: Jan 28, 2014 11:31 AM

    Yet, the NCAA won’t let these students get jobs.


    They can get jobs….nothing prevents them from doing so.

  26. The NCAA needs to enforce the student part and give up on the amateur part of athletics. I’m not saying everyone school needs to pay their athletes, but if some want to let them. If a kid can make money on the side somehow let them, but make sure they are genuine students. No special housing, no special team cafeteria, no special.

    The alternative is to just spin off the major college sports into a professional league “associated” with a university.

    To all who say that paying athletes would ruin the competitiveness of college sports, take a look at some of the scores in 2013: Ohio State 76 Florida A&M 0. Louisville 72, Florida International 0. It can’t get any worse.

  27. While I believe that many college football players are undercompensated for their efforts I think the unintended consequence of actions like this and the O’Bannon lawsuit is that by 2020 all college sports programs will end up being walk on only.

    Football and mens Basketball are really the only programs at most schools that have the ability to generate real revenue. Some others have the ability to break even the way things are currently structured.

    Even if it makes sense to pay Johnny Manziel or Jabari Parker the next lawsuit is going to be the track and field athletes and tennis players who feel descriminated against because they aren’t being paid as much.

  28. This will only cause the NFL to move to Asia for cheaper labor.

    Right, mitt romney and other republicans?!?

  29. Get rid of athletic scholarships and enforce an entrance exam. That should thin the herd more than enough to create the need for the NFL to start up their own developmental league where these fine young men can join a “union” and start earning wages.

  30. vikinganswer says: Jan 28, 2014 11:35 AM

    Go ahead. Then the colleges can take away the scholarships and pay students minimum wage for the hours they are in school or at practice. See how far that takes you!!!

    Not a well thought out response.

    If Northwestern unionizes it gets the ball rolling. Then many programs unionize, then most, then all.

    So the NCAA retaliates and the players go on strike. Then where is Mark Emert’s million dollars a year coming from? What about Nick Saban’s six million? What about the billions of dollars the NCAA gets from TV?

    The athletes have the power, they just need to organize.

  31. If you check out the pay scale of other union entertainers… you will realize the football athlete would be fine with the loss of the label ‘student-athlete’.

  32. Get rid of athletic scholarships and enforce an entrance exam,,,,great idea.
    Or colleges should stop playing football, let the NFL pick up the tab for their minor league football. Most college football players do not graduate, so whats the use of giving scholarships?

  33. I like the comment from above. Don’t pay them about allow them to earn money for themselves.

    If some alum wants to give them some money, they want to sign autographs, or make appearances then so be it.

    Every student who isn’t an athlete is allowed to go and make money themselves. Let the athletes do the same thing.

    The union thing is a joke though, really way to give up your amateur status.

    How do you plan to join the union when you don’t get picked up by a team because you can’t afford to get into school?

    People talk about these kids being mistreated. Most of them would never get to be anywhere near NFL scouts if it weren’t for the schools and their scholarships.

    A good example, if Michael Vick didn’t get a scholarship to VT, do you think he would’ve ever made it to the NFL?

  34. “what the program brings to the university”? Northwestern’s athletic department doesn’t even have annual net revenue….

  35. I’m guessing the majority of these NW players have the same major and are being demagogued by the same socialist professor into believing this ill thought garbage.

  36. Let them taste the real world, pay them minimum wage and make them pay for their education and housing then.

  37. Unionizing hasn’t killed anything, it is greedy management who want all of the money and none of the liability, those wo want to penny-pinch raises and benefits for the workers while raking in record profits.The players are making too much money for the NCAA fpr the NCAA to simply just fold. This time, there are no other, better, cheaper alternatives, and they can’t outsource to India or somewhere else.

  38. Northwestern’s head football coach Pat Richardson gets paid $1,800,000 a year.

    What is amazing….Richardson actually took less (michigan offered $2.5 to 3 million – he turned them down) to ensure that assistant coaches got paid more (salary pool) and investment into football building/facilities/weight room/etc. that competed with other Big Ten programs.

  39. Sorry. if you go to college to play football your pay is your education and you aren’t filled with debt when you leave. if they win and college has to start paying for students say goodbye to college football. then whats next we have to pay high school kids. if your going to cry over the affects on your body. quit playing. if you want payed to play go to canada right out of high school. i hope that they get denied. “Student athlete” quit crying about being payed.

  40. This is going to get ugly.

    I ordinarily come down on the side of keeping the stipend the way it is and then considering practice, workout, and games as Work Study for financial aid/pay purposes.

    That’s more than enough to live on. Bringing down the establishment (crooked as it may be) and establishing a minor league negates why some of these kids establish the level of fame they do… many people follow their regional university. I don’t know that it would be the same for a minor league.

    As stated above, it has the potential to really hurt the smaller schools and non revenue generating sports

  41. Non-athlete armchair college education prognosticator’s value (or perceived value) of a college football athlete’s scholarship is usually wrong and overly emotional.

  42. If the NCAA players to unionize here’s the slippery slope that will follow:

    1st every scholarship player will get a flat rate regardless if their a starter or a bench warmer.

    2nd agents will start whispring into the ears of the more popular/star players, telling them they deserve more $$$ than the avg. player.

    3rd this will lead to bidding wars among the “football factories” for the top players.

    4th only a handful of teams will have a chance to win major bowls/NCAA Championships.

    5th over the course of time Colleges that can’t keep up will either drop football or leave D1 and play in non scholarship divisions.

    FYI, say good buy to non-revenue sports. This will include 99% of womens sports and teams

  43. I expected anything with the word “union” in it to be poorly received.

    People are asking for the players to be paid; they are not saying pay them thousands! College football players are screwed over. They have no time to get a job while in school, and it is illegal for them to take handouts. All while the university is making millions off the TV rights alone.

    It is very simple: players should receive a small wage (local minimum wage+15%, let’s say) far all the time they spend at practice and playing in games. Nothing extravagant, just some money to live your life. If the NCAA offered this, the threat of a union would probably vanish. It would probably also curb some of those NCAA violations.

    Other students get scholarships and still get jobs for spending money. For athletes, the sport is their part-time job.

  44. This won’t last for one month
    Let them “strike”!!
    There are plenty of young athletes begging for a chance to be noticed and possibly get into the NFL!!
    This whole thing is laughable!!

  45. I am all for creating the union, just to be clear though, once amateur tag is removed, the athlete is on hook for taxes on ALL benefits.

    So Northwestern scholarship is worth 200k, free shoes, free meals, free swag from bowl games, free medical…all gets thrown into the income part of the 1099.

    For the folks supporting the creation of a minor league, your idea is to

    1) compete against NCAA with multi billion dollar TV contracts
    2) not provide the non NFL guy an education 98% will not make it to NFL, so now, make him a semi pro, with NO education, and then watch them wash out after their ACL surgery (remember they lose access to the University resources for rehab
    3) build a fan base: I for one, will still go watch my favorite college team over a team of 18 year olds coached by 2nd tier former players.

  46. note athletes can have jobs, it is the no show jobs that are not allowed. Football goes from August to December for 70% of the players with a couple of weeks in the Spring.

    The monitoring and enforcement for the cheaters will need to be severe. Something like: Any player caught cheating will need to wait 2 years before submitting for the draft severe. Coaches lose game checks. Agents lose licenses. Boosters lose access (jail).

    In this scenario; Fluker getting $40,000 to play at Alabama is not the problem, the problem (standard agreement solves), is that if you are not the star, or choose to play by the rules; you do not get the same $40,000.

  47. so many of you boys are crying about the horrors of unionization and then whining about the grave consequences for non revenue or womens sports . Well you cannot slop at the capitalist trough on one part of the issue and not both. If the sports are not making a profit they get cut – college sports at state supported schools are a drain on taxpayer funds and should be abolished if they cannot make money for the schools.
    If the coaches and greedy lying administrators can clean up why not the kids that are sweating their guts out. So much of the objection to this is a greedy jealous lament .
    If the rules were not so restrictive on the kids whilst allowing the people running the programs to live lavish lifestyles then people would not be so furious.
    The schools could solve it all by stopping the huge money deals and ignorant cross country scheduling and conference shake up mumbo jumbo. The people running the show chase the almighty dollar and then people get on this forum and pummel the kids for following the path left by the coaches and A.D ‘S …. HILARIOUS
    CONTRADICTION MUCH ! …….. hypocrites !

  48. Last time I checked, college players are not employees, so they can’t be in a union… who will pay their dues? Will it come out of their scholarship money?

  49. The poor college kids, at this point they have a high school diploma, and they only get a $200K education, free rent for 4 years, that’s another $30k, utilities run about another $12K for 4 years, now if they had to buy that food that would be about $16K
    plus a $200 per month stipend that’s another $9.6K
    (these numbers are based on 4 years, many go 5)

    That is over $270K for 4 years with only a HS diploma!

    These poor kids are abused.

  50. Maybe a “Volunteer’s Union” would be more appropriate of a concept for College players.

    I can understand the idea of non-paid volunteer workforces organizing. I’m thinking along the lines of School Crosswalk volunteers demanding all Crossing Guards have proper safety attire like reflective vests before they will go out and help students cross the road.

    This seems like it calls for a different kind of Union than a standard “Employee’s Union.” They are treading on completely new ground.

  51. A Union will destroy CFB… plain and simple. But hey, this is what some of you people wanted. Never mind that the players are a temp “work force” at best.

  52. Seems like when it comes to college sports most on here are card carrying Communists. Let the free market decide. You know? Capitalism? If a player is worth something to a university they should be able to negotiate the best deal from his suitors. You guys are really American free market capitalists correct?

  53. I’m sure that state universities and colleges will welcome the thought of having hundreds of athletes added to their payrolls. There are some states like California who are can’t even afford to pay the DMV employees seven days a week. They shut those offices down twice a month to save money. If they do this, you can kiss sports like tennis, lacrosse, swimming and volleyball goodbye. Baseball, track & field, and gymnastics will bite the dust also.

  54. good the taxpayers should not support those club activities anyway …. let the Colleges form 2 separate entities one with public schools and one with private schools. Private schools could work out a pay schedule negotiated by the union in concert with the NFL for which it would serve as a minor league feeder system.
    The chancellor should not make more than the states governor and the coaches and A. D.’s should not make more than the chancellor in tax payer funded schools. Get the priorities straight and that will fix nearly every problem

  55. I’m actually more surprised union heads haven’t attacked this revenue stream a lot sooner. I hope if this goes down that it doesn’t mean colleges have to get rid of scholarhsips altogether because only the elite schools will be able to pay players and the rest may have to fold their teams. There are a lot of kids out there all over the country that are only in college because of that scholarship. Less people with college educations or a huge new level of college loans is not a good thing for the U.S.

  56. The NCAA makes millions off these kids and coaches making 4 and 5mil yet the kids just get a so called free education. A student on an academic scholarship gets a free education too and can get a job and is allowed to nake money so why cant the athletes who have to go to school and work out and train like professionals

  57. The minute they unionize, scholarships should be revoked. Let them earn their way into college like everyone else. Fine pay them but don’t pay them AND provide them with $75k to $100k in free education too. Many other more deserving kids who will actually be productive for society could then have access to those scholarships. Let the football players bust their asses in semi-pro ball until they reach drafting age then see how they like it.

  58. $5.15 Billion dollars generated by the big five conferences in football, and basketball.$5.15 billion with a B. Stadiums that seat 100k people with an average of $20 per seat, TV revenues through the Big 10 network, SEC networks, and lets not forget Texas has its own network, and how are these entities paid for, surely not by the physics department, math and English. The money they make off these student athletes back ain’t compensorate to scholarship, room and board, and $200 a month.

  59. Dumbassess!!!! Lets look at it like this; lets get rid of all the conference networks, and stop charging for games. Then a scholarship, room and board are equal.

  60. Here’s an idea — if you don’t want to play football for your school and get a scholarship, then don’t! Pay your own way to a community college and be done with it. Just about any kid that gets decent grades can go to a state supported community college with little or money. (Oh yeah – the grades thing could be an issue).

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