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Dave Ross
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In this Saturday, Oct 6, 2012, file photo, the Northwestern football team heads to the locker room after warming up before an NCAA college football game against Penn State in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

College athletes getting a union?

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board has shocked the sports world.

He ruled that football players at Northwestern University are not just students who happen to great athletes. But, because they spend so much time playing revenue-generating football, they are in fact employees of the university, and therefore have the right to organize a union.

Actually, I'm not sure why that would shock the sports world. Nobody believes that the top college football players are there to do homework.

Although ironically, it was Northwestern Quarterback Kain Colter, one of the few who did keep up with his homework, graduating early with a psychology degree, who was the key witness before the NLRB. Colter said the idea that players are getting an education in return for playing football is a joke.

"The national graduation rate for FBS football players and Division 1 basketball players hovers around 50 percent," he said. "This is a terrible trend that needs to change as this does not set these athletes up for success."

Then there was the case of former North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo, who told HBOs Real Sports about the level of academic rigor expected of him.

"We never had class. There was no class. It was a paper class, that's what they called it," he said.

The deal for many scholarship athletes seems to be, you pretend to be a student; we'll pretend to educate you. But if the college players get a union and end up with anywhere near the revenue cut that the pros get, they'd have enough money for a real education if they want it.

The downside being that the gravy train for the non-revenue sports would be over, which would mean colleges might as well sell off their teams to the NFL and go back to the days when all the athletes actually were students.

Dave Ross, KIRO Radio Morning News Anchor
Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.
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