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Jan 31, 2014 12:01 PM EST

Northwestern University Football Team Leads College Sports Unionization Charge; 10 Reasons Why Student-Athletes Are Already Employees

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The players of the Northwestern University football team should not have an issue establishing a union for college athletes, because they are already employees of the NCAA.

According to an in-depth report from ESPN's "Outside the Lines," the team is leading the charge to unionize college sports. The process will take a long time, but the key decision will be whether or not to recognize student-athletes as employees.

CLICK HERE to read OTL's full report.

According to Forbes, athletes of major NCAA Division I teams and conferences are already treated like employees. The National Labor Board will weigh this decision, but will also have to consider these 10 facts about college athletes.

1.     In the NCAA Division I, the highest level of college sports, the average athlete devotes 43.3 hours per week to practices, games and other team-related activities. That's actually three hours more than a workweek for a regular 9-5 full time job.

2.     NCAA tournaments and national televised games force students to miss classes, that is, if their team is playing in those games. Tournaments, championships and any nationally televised games are a huge revenue stream for the NCAA and schools.

3.     If a team plays through the whole "March Madness" basketball tournament, those students are going to miss more than a week of classes. Is that technically a business trip?

4.     Some schools regulate athlete's speech on Facebook and Twitter.

5.     Thanks mostly to Division I football and basketball, the NCAA rakes in $11 in annual revenue for college sports. That's more than the NHL and NBA.

6.     Revenues made by individual schools rarely go into the classroom, but they pay for stadium renovations, uniforms and coach and administrator salaries.

7.     More than a hundred years ago when the NCAA was founded, according to Forbes, paying coaches was met with similar opposition to paying student-athletes today.

8.     Now, Nick Saban is earning $7 million a year to coach the University of Alabama's football team. On average, coaches of BCS eligible teams made $2 million last year and the average coach of a premier team made $1 million.

9.     In 40 of 50 U.S. states, the highest paid public official is a state university's head football or basketball coach. Even outside the immediate school community, sports matter a great deal.

10.  Studies have shown that athletic success attracts applications, even from higher caliber students. In a way, athletic success may help certain schools' research programs and other academic fields. Think of schools like Boise State and BYU, who happen to have successful Division I sports teams.

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