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EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern’s football coach, Pat Fitzgerald, has urged players to vote no in a secret ballot union election scheduled for later this month, he said Saturday.
The election, the first of its kind in college sports, was ordered last month by Peter Ohr, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, when he ruled that Northwestern’s scholarship football players were employees and eligible to collectively bargain with the university over issues like expanded medical care and practice schedules.
“I believe it’s in their best interest to vote no,” Fitzgerald said after practice.
Fitzgerald first addressed Northwestern players about the decision in a team meeting Wednesday. He also sent a letter to their parents detailing his position. He spoke about the N.L.R.B. ruling publicly for the first time Saturday.
“I just do not believe we need a third party between our players and our coaches, staff and administrators,” said Fitzgerald, a former Northwestern linebacker now in his eighth year as the coach. “Whatever they need, we’ll get them.”
Fitzgerald testified during last month’s N.L.R.B. hearing against the union effort.
After Fitzgerald’s speech to the team last week, the players held their own meeting. Chance Carter, a senior defensive tackle who said he was not sure how he would vote, said opinions on both sides were expressed.
Several players said Saturday that they were...