Some Northwestern players say they are unclear on key unionization issues
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter April 12, 2014 10:10PM
Updated: May 14, 2014 6:55AM
Getting a preliminary count on the unionization vote by Northwestern players slated for April 25 would make even the country’s best pollsters dizzy.
Those who have chosen to speak have indicated they will vote against unionization. No one knows whether that group represents an outspoken minority or is an indication of how the vote will turn out.
Many players have remained silent on the issue.
What is apparent is that the number of players opposing unionization keeps growing. Defensive tackle Sean McEvilly, superback Dan Vitale and linebacker Collin Ellis said after the team’s final spring practice on Saturday that they intend to vote against unionization.
Players also have indicated that they “believe” running back Venric Mark will also vote no, though the senior has yet to confirm it.
“I think a lot of the guys signed the cards thinking it was going to be us against the NCAA,” McEvilly told the Sun-Times. “We didn’t think we were going to be coming after coach [Pat Fitzgerald], [athletic director] Dr. [Jim] Phillips, [university president Morton Schapiro] and the whole university.
“I hope it doesn’t pass.”
The three players who spoke after the practice indicated they still stand behind the issues that the College Athletes Players Association has raised.
The caveat is that players believed they were going to fight for these issues on a national level.
“Whenever I was presented this thing, I believed this was Northwestern versus the NCAA and that’s not how it turned out,” Ellis said.
Of the players who have said in the last week that they will vote against unionization, many have said their initial decision to sign union cards was impulsive.
Some players said they never raised these issues with Fitzgerald and university administrators. Others have expressed trepidation at the indefinite path of a potential union for collegiate athletes.
Vitale said he had no answer as to whether the matter of players paying union dues had been explained.
“The thing that kind of scares me about it is that not enough of us know exactly what’s going on,” Vitale said. “We don’t know the facts.”