Northwestern players see push as spark for change

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 12, 2014 at 5:03 pm •  Published: April 12, 2014
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Safety Traveon Henry said he's not sure which way the team is leaning. He said Colter is "still trying to get this done" and is "very strong about it."

"He's trying to protect the players," Henry added.

The question is which way they'll vote. Ellis knows which way he's leaning.

"Yeah, there's flaws in any organization," he said. "Give me an organization that doesn't have a flaw and I want to go work there. I feel like that doesn't happen. The NCAA is an organization. Northwestern is an organization. Nothing's perfect. However, there are organizations that treat their people amazing."

He understands that the situation for players at other schools might not be as good as it is at Northwestern, that he and his teammates could essentially take the bullet for them by voting to unionize.

"I thought that's what it was," Ellis said. "We were presented as this was not about Northwestern, this is not about what we have here."

So while Northwestern could serve as a "blueprint" for other schools, he doesn't think it's worth "risking what I love here" and "hurting relationships." He believes the players would be better off working with coach Pat Fitzgerald and athletic director Jim Phillips, a sentiment that Siemian expressed earlier in the week.

"Everybody's intent is with the best of heart," Ellis said. "Everybody's trying to create change in a positive way for student-athletes. In that respect, I'm proud of everybody. I'm proud of Kain. I'm proud of what they're trying to accomplish."

Fitzgerald also has encouraged his players to vote against forming a union, saying the concerns can be addressed through communication. But he's not necessarily against change.

"I believe that there are mechanisms for change, and I think it's been well-documented that I am an advocate for change," Fitzgerald said. "I just don't believe that unionization is the way to go."