Three Northwestern officials take stand in NLRB hearing; Fitzgerald rumored to testify Friday


Daily file photo by Rohan Nadkarni

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. Three NU officials testified Thursday.

Rohan Nadkarni, Reporter

Witness testimony continued Thursday in the College Athlete Players Association case against Northwestern in front of the National Labor Relations Board.

NU called three witnesses to the stand: Steven Green, deputy director of athletics for internal affairs; Carolyn Lindley, university director of financial aid and Janna Blais, deputy director of athletics for student-athlete welfare.

Green’s testimony finished quickly but started slowly for NU. CAPA objected to its relevance, and after a long back and forth with the hearing officer, he was finally allowed to testify.

The testimony mainly dealt with finances for the first part of the hearing. In stark contrast with the large football revenues reported Wednesday, Green testified that the NU athletic department actually loses money. He said money generated from football is diverted to cover other expenses. Ultimately, athletics are subsidized by other University funds.

But CAPA made sure to assert that only football revenues are important and relevant to its union case.
During one objection in Green’s testimony, hearing officer Joyce Hofstra called the CAPA case weak for not having put enough on the record.

Lindley’s testimony also ended after only a short questioning period. Lindley revealed that $15 million of the $139 million NU provides in aid goes to athletes, and those grants cover the full $63,000 cost of attending school this year.

After lunch, the excitement picked up considerably. Blais had the longest testimonial period of the day, taking the stand for more than four hours.

Blais testified to specifically refute claims made by Kain Colter on Tuesday. Blais said players were allowed to take classes before 11 a.m. and brought up Colter’s 3.2 GPA as a sign of his academic success.

Blais also revealed more policies for athletes. She testified that athletes are not allowed to travel to road games 48 hours before final exams, per NU rules. Blais testified that professors are not required to change their syllabi for players and can reject players from taking traveling exams or early tests.

From her testimony, it was also revealed that NU sets up 25 internships that are specific and held for athletes only at the school.

Title IX also became a sticking point during the Blais testimony. She said a potential union could cause issue’s with Title IX compliance and would require a whole system change at NU. When pressed on the topic by a CAPA attorney, Blais declined to detail any specific Title IX concerns that could come with a union, citing the complexity of the law.

Proceedings are expected to ramp up to a new level as they continue: According to multiple reports, coach Pat Fitzgerald is expected to testify Friday. NU lawyer Joe Tilson declined to comment on who will take the stand for the University on Friday and said, “these situations are fluid.”

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