It’s safe to say the pair of young men who shared the Northwestern quarterback duties for the past two seasons do not see eye to eye on the issue of the Wildcat football team unionizing.
While Kain Colter has been the face of the movement since he completed his eligibility after last season, Northwestern senior-to-be Trevor Siemian voiced his opinion against today on a teleconference the Big Ten held for coaches and players from the West division to discuss spring football with the media.
“I’ve had an unbelievable experience here, an unbelievable experience,” Siemian replied when asked why he would vote no when the players have the opportunity to form a union later this month. “And I think this all began with the best intentions, sure. I feel that way, and a lot of guys on the team feel that way, but given our circumstance here with the way we’re treated, you know, I’m treated far better than I deserve here and introducing a third party or somebody else especially when our main goals when this began is there are issues with the NCAA that we thought we could address and that was one of the ways to do it but nothing has been exhausted from within the school, you know? Myself included, nobody has ever addressed (Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald) or (NU athletics director) Dr. Phillips about these issues, and two of these guys all of us have come here and trusted so much. I’ve known Coach Fitz for five or six years now, and to say I don’t trust you enough to help us out and make these changes I don’t think is the right way to go.”
Asked if he was confident most of the players on the team feel that way, Siemian said, “Yeah, I can only speak for myself but I’ll say there’s a significant amount of guys on the team that feel similar to me.”
Finally, he was asked why he changed his mind on the issue.
“This all happened in a way that I kind of fault myself for getting into something and not gathering as much information as I could have initially when this happened,” he said. “But at the same time, we filed for employee cards (but that) doesn’t mean that a union is right for this university or this school, so I think that distinction needs to be made, too. Just because you’re an employee doesn’t necessarily mean that a union is the right avenue, especially in a scenario at Northwestern where everybody on the team agrees or most guys on the team agree we’ve been treated very, very well here here.
“With that being said, I just don’t think that’s the direction we should go in.”
Even if Northwestern players vote not to unionize now, the right will continue to be there, and the issue figures to bounce around in the legal arena in the near future as well.
One thing is certain — however either of those developments shake out, the Northwestern players (and others) have done much to foster discussion about benefits, compensation and more for college athletes, and it does seem as though the NCAA is moving in the right direction (however slowly).
Those are good things no matter which side of this argument you happen to fall on at this point in time.