(CBS) In the wake of Northwestern student athletes starting a movement to unionize, Northwestern Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips released the following statement Tuesday:
We love and are proud of our students. Northwestern teaches them to be leaders and independent thinkers who will make a positive impact on their communities, the nation and the world. Today’s action demonstrates that they are doing so.
Northwestern University always has been, and continues to be, committed to the health, safety and academic success of all of its students, including its student-athletes. The concerns regarding the long-term health impacts of playing intercollegiate sports, providing academic support and opportunities for student-athletes are being discussed currently at the national level, and we agree that they should have a prominent voice in those discussions.
We are pleased to note that the Northwestern students involved in this effort emphasized that they are not unhappy with the University, the football program or their treatment here, but are raising the concerns because of the importance of these issues nationally.
Northwestern believes that our student-athletes are not employees and collective bargaining is therefore not the appropriate method to address these concerns. However, we agree that the health and academic issues being raised by our student-athletes and others are important ones that deserve further consideration.
Meanwhile, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald chimed in on the issue on Twitter:
Kain and our student-athletes have followed their beliefs with great passion and courage. I'm incredibly proud of our young men! GO CATS!—
Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) January 28, 2014