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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Colter’s testimony pulls back curtain on Northwestern football

Rohan Nadkarni/Daily Senior Staffer
Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter — standing with National College Players Association president Ramogi Huma and United Steelworkers political director Tim Waters — addressed the media Tuesday after answering questions from attorneys for more than six hours at a National Labor Relations Board hearing.

Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter revealed new information Tuesday about the behind-the-scenes workings of NU’s football team in his testimony for the College Athletes Players Association’s unionization case against NU.

(Updated: Colter begins testimony at second NLRB hearing)

Colter answered questions posed by counsel from each side, beginning his testimony with details about rigid daily schedules for football players. For example, on the day of the Cats’ Homecoming matchup against Ohio State, every player received a schedule that was planned from 9:30 a.m. until the game started at 7:12 p.m. The schedule includes meetings, stretches and activities such as a mandatory nap.

A graduating senior told The Daily on Sunday he used to know his schedule “down to the minute.”

(In Focus: From locker room to courtroom: How the union movement came to Northwestern)

Social media was another contentious point. Colter said the athletic department hired a third party to comb through each players’ various social media profiles and highlight items that could cause trouble. The senior was once told to remove a tweet he posted that had a picture of free sunglasses.

“Is there a social networking policy in the undergraduate handbook?” Colter asked NU attorney Anna Wermuth during one heated moment of his testimony.

Colter also testified about how difficult football made his class scheduling, saying he is behind on the required pre-med courses.

“Football makes it hard for you to succeed (academically),” said Colter, a psychology major. “You have to sacrifice one, and we’re not allowed to sacrifice football.”

Colter said academic advisors in the athletic department repeatedly told him when to take certain classes, such as chemistry, which is typically only offered in the morning. Colter enrolled in classes in the School of Continuing Studies in order to catch up on his pre-med requirements but still claimed to be very far behind.

The team’s practice schedule restricted Colter from taking the classes he wanted. In the fall, players were not allowed to sign up for classes that began before 11 a.m., he said. Colter testified the team also had a Swahili class added one quarter in order to accommodate players.

Players are also advised not to take eight-week summer classes. Players who do must travel from Evanston to Kenosha, Wis., in order to attend practice. Last summer, Colter was in a “conflict group” because of an internship and was forced to attend separate summer workouts.

Players are also required to live on campus their first two years at school. When they move off campus, their housing is subsidized by a monthly stipend totaling around $1,600. The money is intended to cover rent and groceries but can be spent however a player chooses. Part of the stipend is deducted for food at certain team activities.

Coaches can also control where players live off campus. Colter said players must have their leases approved by coaches, describing one instance in which players were told not to sign a lease because a coach did not like the area the house was in.

Discipline also became an issue, as NU lawyers pressed Colter to reveal what happened to players who missed practice. Colter said for each minute a player was late, they had to spend one day at “study table,” essentially spending an hour before morning practice in a coach’s office.

The senior outlined very specific times players can see their families. The three main vacations are about 10 days before summer workouts in June, the University’s regularly scheduled Spring Break and four or five days before a bowl game. On Thanksgiving, players practice in the morning and must stay within a six-hour radius of Evanston after that. During seasons when the team does not make a bowl game, players have more time off.

NU’s lawyers also revealed some of the perks of being a football player. As a junior, Colter was assigned a mentor, former running back Jacob Schmidt. NU’s lawyers repeatedly asserted Schmidt helped Colter attain an agent and gain an internship at Goldman Sachs.

Despite his objections, Colter said he was not trying to change the substance of the experience but rather to have the rigorous structure of athletes’ lives acknowledged.

“We’re not complaining about anything right now,” he said. “We’re just trying to be recognized as employees of the University.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Rohan_NU

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Colter’s testimony pulls back curtain on Northwestern football