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Northwestern AD Jim Phillips: College athletics 'not in the right place,' but unions not the answer

Northwestern University football players were declared employees by the NLRB earlier this year. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty  Images) Northwestern University football players were declared employees by the NLRB earlier this year. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Northwestern University athletic director Jim Phillips said he does not agree with his school's football team's attempt to unionize, but he concedes that there are things in college athletics that need to be fixed, reports Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune.

Phillips spoke at length about the unionization for the first time during the Big Ten conference meetings in Rosemont, Ill., on Tuesday, saying the model simply did not fit for college sports.

“We’re not the minor leagues. And 98.7 percent of student-athletes do not go on to play professional sports. That’s out of 460,000 athletes across 1,100 schools.

“College athletics is college athletics. Is it in the right place? It’s not in the right place. We’ll work hard to get it in the right place. Does that mean you drastically change the dynamics of what college athletics is supposed to be?”

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Phillips did go on to say that schools should be allowed to provide increased stipends to athletes, and that the players should have an expanded voice in the NCAA.

“We don’t need student-athletes in an advisory role, we need them in a voting role.”

The Northwestern football team voted in April on whether it would like to unionize, but the results have been sealed pending an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board of a regional ruling that deemed the athletes were employees.

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