Kain Colter

NLRB ruling gives Northwestern players first labor union win


While not immediately, the course of collegiate athletics is in the midst of what will ultimately be monumental changes.  Whether that’s good or bad for sports in general and football specifically remains to be seen.

In a historic ruling Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern football players meet the standards under federal guidelines to form a union.  The initial petition was filed by the National College Players Association on behalf of former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), and had the backing of the United Steelworkers union.

The NLRB ruled essentially what CAPA had argued in stating its case: football players are employees of the university.

“Players receiving scholarships to perform football-related services for the Employer under a contract for hire in return for compensation are subject to the Employer’s control and are therefore employees,” an excerpt of the NLRB’s ruling read.

For now, the goals of the NCPA/CAPA are “better concussion and other medical protections, and for scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance” as well as “a trust fund that players could tap into after their NCAA eligibility expires to finish schooling or be rewarded for finishing schooling.”  This ruling does, though, have the potential to open up the possibility of salaries or other financial streams — endorsements, revenue sharing from merchandise sale, etc. — on down the road.

It should be noted that this decision, for the moment, applies only to private institutions such as Northwestern.  Public universities, which make up the vast majority of FBS institutions, are under the jurisdiction of state laws, not federal.

Northwestern is expected to issue a statement on the decision in the very near future, at which point the university will likely announce an appeal.

Badgers losing top TE for 4-8 weeks

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 19:  Tight end Austin Traylor #46 of the Wisconsin Badgers makes a 38 yard reception during the fourth quarter of the college football game against the Troy Trojans at Camp Randall Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin.  The Badgers defeated the Trojans 28-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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One of the most consistent pieces of Wisconsin’s passing attack, such as it is, will be on the shelf for the foreseeable future.

A UW official confirmed to madison.com that Austin Traylor sustained a right-arm injury in Saturday’s loss to Iowa.  As a result, the tight end will be sidelined for the rather broad period of 4-8 weeks.

At best, Traylor could return for the Nov. 7 game against Maryland after missing contests with Nebraska, Purdue, Illinois and Rutgers.  At worst, he’d miss the remainder of the regular season, but could return for a bowl game, and perhaps the Big Ten championship game if the Badgers were to earn another berth.

Because he’s already played in five games this season, Traylor would not be eligible for a medical hardship waiver if he were to miss the remainder of the year.

Traylor is tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with three while his 15.6 yards per reception is tops on the team.  He’s third in receiving yards with 156 and tied for fourth with 10 receptions.

Dalvin Cook returns to practice for FSU

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles runs the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the second half at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. Florida State defeated South Florida 34-14 as Cook rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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With each passing day, it appears Miami won’t be able to avoid one of the most talented and productive running backs in the country.

Thursday, Dalvin Cook returned to practice for the first time this week.  Cook suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Florida State’s win over Wake Forest this past Saturday, and had spent the previous two days of practice riding a bicycle while the rest of his teammates prepped for the in-state and conference rivalry game against The U this Saturday.

The Palm Beach Post wrote that Cook showed “no signs” of the hamstring injury that had some worried about his availability in Week 6.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher, who said Wednesday he doesn’t “ever count Dalvin out” because of his healing ability, will meet with reporters later this evening and could address Cook’s status for the weekend then.  Or, he could play to keep the Hurricanes guessing, even as most assume the All-ACC back will be on the field.

Cook is far and away FSU’s leading rusher, with his 142.5 yards per game good for eight in the country and his six rushing touchdowns tied for 20th.