Mar 31, 2014 11:16 AM EDT
Northwestern's Kain Colter and CAPA President Ramogi Huma Headed to Capitol Hill
Ramogi Huma and Kain Colter are going to Capitol Hill this week to present their case to Congress in order to set the record straight on what it is they want to accomplish.
Huma, the president of the College Athletes Players Association, told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" he wants to protect the National Labor Rights Board (NLRB) decision to allow Northwestern football players to unionize. Colter, the school's former quarterback, has been the face of the movement from the start.
"We want them to understand why we're doing what we're doing," Huma told OTL. "Obviously, Congress has the power to affect conditions for college athletes as well, and we want to correct some of the false statements that have been made about what we're trying to do."
Last week, the NLRB in Chicago announced that college athletes should be considered employees of the NCAA and therefore allowed to form a union. An appeal is expected soon with the NLRB in Washington D.C., so Northwestern may not hold union elections if or when the decision is upheld.
Colter and Huma will reportedly meet an "undisclosed set of legislators" for "informational briefings" Wednesday and Thursday. Lawmakers in D.C. have been split on their feelings toward the NLRB's decision, which could add to already immense pressure on the NCAA to revise its model of amateurism.
"Of course they should be able to organize," Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told the Washington Post. "The way these people are treated by the NCAA and the universities themselves is really unpardonable, and I wish them well. I'll do anything I can to help."
Reid's son once played soccer at the University of Virginia, but another senator who was once the Education Secretary felt otherwise.
"Imagine a university's basketball players striking before a Sweet 16 game demanding shorter practices, bigger dorm rooms, better food and no classes before 11 a.m.," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "This is an absurd decision that will destroy intercollegiate athletics as we know it."
OTL reported that the national NLRB appeal is unlikely to overturn the decision, but the school is really just trying to delay the impending union elections. Those elections should be set to take place in the coming month and often do even when an employer disagrees. One option the Chicago NLRB has is to delay the elections until the legal aspect is settled.
"We definitely would like to hold the election as soon as possible," Huma said. "Hopefully, there will be no delay."
Of course, the NLRB's decision is a response to a petition at Northwestern. It is not clear if Huma plans to try to get other teams at different universities to follow suit. Either way, the decision is bound to have a ripple effect within the NCAA and the major Division I basketball and football programs that bring in billions of dollars for them.
"We're not going to comment," Huma told OTL. "If it happens, people will learn about it after the fact."
Join the Conversation