BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Kain Colter is not completely sure what the landscape will one day look like if college athletes are allowed to unionize. He's just more convinced than ever that it's become necessary.
The former Northwestern quarterback, now essentially the face of the movement that could completely reshape college sports, said Thursday that a federal agency's decision to allow the Wildcats to form a union was an expected victory — but also represents just the first step in what he knows will be a lengthy process.
"There's so many different components," Colter said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But what this does ... it ensures that players have a voice and whatever route this goes and whatever structure comes from college sports, we have input. We're out there sacrificing so much. We're a big part of what college sports is today and the revenue that's generated off of it. We deserve to have a say in that. We deserve a seat at the table."
A two-page online letter that he wrote might have made it all happen.
Colter, 21, wasn't the first to question why athletes feel like their rights in college are limited, but it was an online rant that he sent to the National College Players Association that started the roll of this now-enormous snowball. From that note, an idea was born, and the notion got legitimized Wednesday when a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board said Northwestern's players should be allowed to unionize.
The university will appeal. Colter isn't worried.
"You saw how strong of a ruling it was and that we won every single claim," Colter said. "It's going to be something that's really hard to overturn."
At the root of Colter's argument for change is that he believes college athletes lack basic protections, such as the guarantee of medical coverage and the promise of a four-year scholarship at most institutions. It's common for scholarships to be renewed annually, and athletes have long felt that they could be vulnerable in situations like a change in coaches or philosophy.
He stresses, though, that he enjoyed his time at Northwestern. He raves about Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald, calling him the best in college football. His experience was not a bad one, but Colter still can't understand why his attempts to talk to the NCAA about possible changes were repeatedly turned down.
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