FAQs

Q: Why do college athletes need a union?
A: The NCAA publicly declared that it has no duty to protect players from injuries.  It has ignored players’ plea for concussion reform, measures to increase graduation rates, and sports-related health coverage.  College athletes need a players association because NCAA sports has clearly demonstrated that it will never voluntarily provide players with basic protections regardless of how many billions of dollars the players generate.

Q:  Are the Northwestern players complaining about mistreatment by their university?
A: No. These players are unhappy with NCAA policies that affect their lives as Northwestern athletes.

Q: Does signing cards mean that Northwestern football players have a union?
A: No. CAPA must win the secret ballot election to be certified by the NLRB.

Q: If you win the argument that Northwestern players can be represented by CAPA because they are “employees” under the NLRA does this mean football players at private schools will also be classified as “employees” too?
A: The Northwestern case will be precedent that we are confident the NLRB will apply at other FBS Schools.  It is less clear if the case would apply to other NCAA divisions.

Q: Why are you focusing only on the revenue athletes in the top division? Don’t players in other sports and divisions deserve protections?
A: Players in all sports and divisions deserve protections. We are currently focusing on the top division because it is clear that football and basketball players in this division are employees.  It may be more difficult to make that case in other sports and divisions.

Q: If football players are employees, would nonrevenue athletes at private schools be considered employees too? 
A: College athletes who receive an athletic scholarship on the condition that they play a sport for the university are “paid to play” and may be employees, though each team would likely have to make their case individually.

Q: If nonrevenue players approach the College Athletes Players Association, will it represent them as well?
A: Possibly in the future, it would depend on the applicable labor laws and details surrounding their athletic arrangement.   For now, we are focused on making the case on behalf of Northwestern football players.

Q: If football and men’s basketball players from other schools approach the College Athletes Players Association to assert their rights, will it represent them as well?
A: CAPA intends to represent FBS football players and Division I men’s basketball players but its ability to do so would ultimately depend on the labor laws that govern the players of each team.

Q: Most athletic programs lose money.  How can they afford to give players more?
A: First, new conference, NCAA, and football playoff TV deals are generating over $1 billion in NEW revenue. Secondly, most programs report losses because they are “gold-plating” salaries and facilities, not because the spending is necessary.  

Q: How long will it take to have a final ruling about players’ employee status?
A: It’s impossible to predict.  However, we are hopeful for a quick process.  In the meantime, we will continue raising awareness about the need for better protections for college athletes.

Q: Will this lead to a player strike?
A: We have never advocated for a strike and are not advocating for one now.

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