Northwestern football players to vote on authorizing a union on April 25

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Northwestern football players will vote whether to organize under CAPA on April 25. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Kain Colter

Northwestern football players will vote on whether to organize under the College Athletes Players Association, or CAPA, on April 25. A spokesman for the National Labor Relations Board confirmed the date to the Associated Press on Wednesday.

On March 27, an NLRB official ruled that quarterback Kain Colter and other Northwestern football players have the right to form a labor union, a first for college athletics.

It's unclear what effect unionized student-athletes could have on college sports, though legal analyst Michael McCann said that the NLRB's ruling effectively framed Northwestern's football players as employees.

"I think one key argument was the number of hours per week playing sports. That had to have been a major factor, the idea that, even though NCAA rules limit athletic activities to 20 hours per week during the season and eight hours during the offseason, Colter testified under oath that he spent 40-50 hours a week during the season on football. To me, that’s a very crucial piece of information, because that’s much more in line with an employee than a student, especially given that there are school rules regarding the number of hours a full-time student can work. That positioned Colter to say, 'I really am working in a job. I’m just not getting paid for it.'"

In a statement, the NCAA said it was "disappointed" by the NLRB's ruling. Northwestern has said it will appeal the decision.

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