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.”
The legal team representing the players argued a head coach should be classified as an employer because it is he who ultimately controls the compensation for the player. A coach can pull a scholarship at any time from a player, for example. Fitzgerald stated that is an unlikely situation at Northwestern, but he could not dispute that fact, which is written out in the team rules.
As USA Today points out, it seems as though Northwestern and the players are arguing from two different angles. Northwestern continues to defend their policies by arguing they put academics first, but the players are attempting to prove the players have no representation under any circumstances in which a coach treats the players or the team unfairly. Nobody has accused Northwestern or Fitzgerald of any wrong doing. The players are simply looking to set a precedent that will benefit their cause in the long term.