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Pat Fitzgerald testifies against own NU players

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09:30 AM ET 02.22 | Because the College Athletes Players Association argues a relationship between a player and his coach should be considered an employee-employer relationship, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was asked to testify against his players on Friday. The players union formed by Northwestern football players has been in court this week with the hope of being able to move forward with their unionization plans. To do that they must get a court to rule in their favor about how student athletes should be classified. If they can get a ruling to determine they should be classified as employees of Northwestern University, the next stage may begin. One of the key witnesses turned out to be Fitzgerald, who continued to side with the official university line that players should not be considered employees of the university. "We take pride in developing our men to be the best they can be in everything they choose to do," Fitzgerald said, according to USA Today. "Our goals are simple: We want to graduate 100% of our players and prepare them for life, and we want to compete for championships."

College Football Talk

Pat Fitzgerald, Getty Images Pat Fitzgerald, Getty Images
February 22, 2014  09:41 AM ET

For BB9: Is this what you lawyers call a "Hostile Witness?"

Comment #2 has been removed
February 22, 2014  10:08 AM ET

they are not employees

February 22, 2014  10:33 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

For BB9: Is this what you lawyers call a "Hostile Witness?"

By definition of the rules (Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence) in use in Federal Court a hostile witness is a witness that appears on your witness list that you are calling to testify to "make your case" but their interests are opposed to yours'. So yes Pat would be a hostile witness and that would enable the Plaintiffs (players) Counsel to question him in a manner which is known as "leading". Basically a series of yes/no questions.

In reality he will be sympathetic and measured in his tone because he has to live with these guys, but I would definitely expect him to tow the University line.

February 22, 2014  10:42 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

they are not employees

If this frivolous case is somehow ruled in favor of the players, imagine how many sports will be dropped in order to compensate for the huge increase in payroll. Will diving, golf and tennis survive? Swimming? Cross country and track? Women's softball? Volleyball? Hockey? Rowing?

Football revenue compensates for lack of revenue in most other sports save for basketball. There will be casualties but, hey, the football jocks will be getting theirs so it's ok right?

February 22, 2014  10:46 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

If this frivolous case is somehow ruled in favor of the players, imagine how many sports will be dropped in order to compensate for the huge increase in payroll. Will diving, golf and tennis survive? Swimming? Cross country and track? Women's softball? Volleyball? Hockey? Rowing?Football revenue compensates for lack of revenue in most other sports save for basketball. There will be casualties but, hey, the football jocks will be getting theirs so it's ok right?

Its shortsighted greed by some at the expense of many. Be careful what you wish for because the potential consequences may not be what you think. i am sure the IRS will look at student athletes that are now "employees" a bit differently.

February 22, 2014  10:47 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

they are not employees

That's a nice opinion to have and as I have posted elsewhere, in the end I think the court will engage in some tortured logic to reach that conclusion, cuz that's what the big money interests (their bosses) want.

But there is one hell of a legal argument to be made that they are employees by the very definition of the National Labor Relations Act. Their is no question that there is an "enterprise" under the Act and that the players are "compensated" as a participant under the Act. Question then becomes their right to collective bargaining and then from there fair compensation.

If you want to go one Wiki and read the Act it is lengthy and at times tortuous but your flip conclusion that they are no employees is likely not true.

February 22, 2014  10:52 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

If this frivolous case is somehow ruled in favor of the players, imagine how many sports will be dropped in order to compensate for the huge increase in payroll. Will diving, golf and tennis survive? Swimming? Cross country and track? Women's softball? Volleyball? Hockey? Rowing?Football revenue compensates for lack of revenue in most other sports save for basketball. There will be casualties but, hey, the football jocks will be getting theirs so it's ok right?

Doc Congress could step in and pass a law that exempts scholarship athletes from the National Labor Relations Act. When it was passed in 1935 two major groups were excluded, Farm Workers and Domestic Workers (maids).

What does that tell you?

But there would be no reason why Congress could not exempt non-profit educational institutions and scholarship athletes. Its that they don't and now someone is challenging the status quo.

February 22, 2014  10:57 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

That's a nice opinion to have and as I have posted elsewhere, in the end I think the court will engage in some tortured logic to reach that conclusion, cuz that's what the big money interests (their bosses) want.But there is one hell of a legal argument to be made that they are employees by the very definition of the National Labor Relations Act. Their is no question that there is an "enterprise" under the Act and that the players are "compensated" as a participant under the Act. Question then becomes their right to collective bargaining and then from there fair compensation. If you want to go one Wiki and read the Act it is lengthy and at times tortuous but your flip conclusion that they are no employees is likely not true.

Your opinion is noted. They are not employees

February 22, 2014  10:59 AM ET
QUOTE(#8):

Doc Congress could step in and pass a law that exempts scholarship athletes from the National Labor Relations Act. When it was passed in 1935 two major groups were excluded, Farm Workers and Domestic Workers (maids).What does that tell you?But there would be no reason why Congress could not exempt non-profit educational institutions and scholarship athletes. Its that they don't and now someone is challenging the status quo.

congress can go in and make flying monkeys employees if they chose to do so.

February 22, 2014  11:00 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

That's a nice opinion to have and as I have posted elsewhere, in the end I think the court will engage in some tortured logic to reach that conclusion, cuz that's what the big money interests (their bosses) want.But there is one hell of a legal argument to be made that they are employees by the very definition of the National Labor Relations Act. Their is no question that there is an "enterprise" under the Act and that the players are "compensated" as a participant under the Act. Question then becomes their right to collective bargaining and then from there fair compensation. If you want to go one Wiki and read the Act it is lengthy and at times tortuous but your flip conclusion that they are no employees is likely not true.

Again, I'm no lawyer (except maybe barrack-room), BB, but it would seem to me that if a quid pro quo arrangement exists with a student-athlete accepting a university scholarship worth tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars to play (labor?) for the school, then he/she is, in effect, an employee of the school.

And if the schools are making millions of dollars via the play (labor?) of these employees, are these institutions then not corporate enterprises?

February 22, 2014  11:09 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

... fair compensation.

And there you have it right there.

I'm in various stages of putting 4 people through college, I've spent six figures several times over and I'm not finished yet. My sympathy meter is stuck on zero for the poor struggling scholarship football player who refuses to admit, or even acknowledge, the huge benefit, and compensation, he's already receiving and thinks he deserves more at the expense of someone else.

February 22, 2014  11:16 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

And there you have it right there. I'm in various stages of putting 4 people through college, I've spent six figures several times over and I'm not finished yet. My sympathy meter is stuck on zero for the poor struggling scholarship football player who refuses to admit, or even acknowledge, the huge benefit, and compensation, he's already receiving and thinks he deserves more at the expense of someone else.

Doc and Harley, I am with you. You have correctly identified the issue that will be at the heart of the matter. You are making the University's argument ... that they are adequately compensated.

This will be an interesting case.

February 22, 2014  11:21 AM ET
QUOTE(#11):

...And if the schools are making millions of dollars via the play (labor?) of these employees, are these institutions then not corporate enterprises?

My employer makes millions in profits off billions in sales, the difference being operating costs. My contribution to the profit margin could be argued ... but never proved. If I demanded a bigger piece of the pie, akin to the sophomoric leg-bone-connected-to-the-knee-bone logic these players are pursuing, I'd be laughed out of the office and I'd be looking for a new employer.

February 22, 2014  11:22 AM ET
QUOTE(#13):

Doc and Harley, I am with you. You have correctly identified the issue that will be at the heart of the matter. You are making the University's argument ... that they are adequately compensated.This will be an interesting case.

Its a good discussion.

February 22, 2014  11:22 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

And there you have it right there. I'm in various stages of putting 4 people through college, I've spent six figures several times over and I'm not finished yet. My sympathy meter is stuck on zero for the poor struggling scholarship football player who refuses to admit, or even acknowledge, the huge benefit, and compensation, he's already receiving and thinks he deserves more at the expense of someone else.

My sympathies are with you on that count good Dr., as my brother and his wife are coping with the same financial burden for putting their two kids through college.

I am struck, however, by Kain Colter's disclosure that he was unable to fulfill his initial dream of getting a pre-med degree (and settled for a psychology BS) because of the extraordinary time constrains he says are leveled at the college student athlete. Couple that with player concerns about injury management, insurance, and health and safety issues.

February 22, 2014  11:32 AM ET
QUOTE(#16):

... I am struck, however, by Kain Colter's disclosure that he was unable to fulfill his initial dream of getting a pre-med degree (and settled for a psychology BS) because of the extraordinary time constrains he says are leveled at the college student athlete...

I hear what you're saying but ... someone gave him the chance to fulfill that dream free of charge.

And I agree ... "settling" for a psychology degree sounds like BS. He can tell it to Oprah. There are plenty of student-athletes who found a way to achieve exactly what Mr. Colter found so difficult to do.

February 22, 2014  11:33 AM ET
QUOTE(#16):

I am struck, however, by Kain Colter's disclosure that he was unable to fulfill his initial dream of getting a pre-med degree (and settled for a psychology BS) because of the extraordinary time constrains he says are leveled at the college student athlete. Couple that with player concerns about injury management, insurance, and health and safety issues.

Did not stop Craig Krenzel from getting a 3.90 GPA in Molecular Genetics. And Krenzel quaterbacked Ohio State to a national championship.

Has not stopped Aaron Craft 3.92 pre-med major. That is crybaby chiit right there. You want to do it you can.

February 22, 2014  11:33 AM ET

Suggestive reading (if youall have the time/inclination) is a very illuminating wiki entry on Division III sports; see subheading "General and Historical Considerations" that illustrates the philosophical conundrums of being a student-athlete at Division I versus Division III schools.

Maybe Colter (in regards to his disclosure I mentioned in #16) should've considered going to school at a Division III school instead of NW. He might have been in a better position to realize his degree/career plans.

 
February 22, 2014  11:35 AM ET
QUOTE(#18):

Did not stop Craig Krenzel from getting a 3.90 GPA in Molecular Genetics. And Krenzel quaterbacked Ohio State to a national championship.Has not stopped Aaron Craft 3.92 pre-med major. That is crybaby chiit right there. You want to do it you can.

Those examples were in the back of my head, too. Makes Colter's argument a bit weak on the face of it.

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