Q&A: Kain Colter, former Northwestern quarterback, on NLRB ruling

Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter displayed APU, short for All Players United on his wristbands during a game against Maine. Colter told The Daily he was ecstatic when he heard the news about the NLRBs ruling on Wednesday.


Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter displayed “APU,” short for “All Players United” on his wristbands during a game against Maine. Colter told The Daily he was “ecstatic” when he heard the news about the NLRB’s ruling on Wednesday.

Rohan Nadkarni, Reporter

On Wednesday, the Chicago branch of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Northwestern’s football players were University employees. Although NU has pledged to appeal the ruling, it was a key step in the players’ effort to gain a seat at the table in negotiations regarding the rights of college athletes. The movement has been led by former NU quarterback Kain Colter, who has exhausted his eligibility as player for the Wildcats and is preparing for the NFL Draft. The Daily caught up with Colter to discuss his reaction to Wednesday’s ruling and the state of his relationship with the football program.

(NLRB rules in favor of Northwestern players union)

The Daily Northwestern: When did you find out about the ruling? What was your reaction?

Kain Colter: Our lawyers told me the week before that they would know the ruling before the public. On Wednesday, I got an email in all capital letters saying we won. I was ecstatic. I jumped on the phone with Ramogi (Huma) and lawyers, we were all really excited.

The Daily: How did you feel about the reaction to your testimony in the media?

Colter: It was a little frustrating. I expected some pushback, but I wasn’t expecting all the misportrayal. But I was focusing on the positives, I focused on the teammates that supported me. I couldn’t focus on that stuff that I couldn’t control.

The Daily: What was your reaction to former teammates speaking out against you publicly?

Colter: I can’t speak for them about how they feel about me. I haven’t gotten any phone calls from any former players. If they went out on a limb and they talked to the media — they didn’t speak to me first to discuss what everything was about. It was a little disheartening. I expected at least a phone call.

The Daily: What’s your relationship like with the school right now?

Colter: It’s difficult in that you hope no bridges would be burned. I love the school, coach (Pat Fitzgerald) and the football program, but that doesn’t take away the fact that players all over the country are employees. Obviously Northwestern is way beyond other football programs, but it took a school that had intelligent players to prepare for the challenge to be pioneers. Our school helped us to be ready to take on this challenge, and I’m grateful for that.

The Daily: What were you thinking when current players released a statement during the hearing in support of coach Fitzgerald?

Colter: I was happy with the statement. Again, the media was making it something that it wasn’t, turning this into us vs. Northwestern. All that statement was meant to be was refocusing the issue on what the issue really was, it was about players getting a voice. It was reassuring that people needed a voice. I love those guys and I can’t wait to celebrate this victory with them.

The Daily: How is your NFL Draft preparation going? Has your ankle healed?

Colter: It’s going great. This was my first week, it felt to great be back on the field. I could tell I’m not 100 percent yet, but I feel good. I’m really confident. I have some high expectations for myself. I think I can offer a lot to any NFL team.

The Daily: Will you be involved with CAPA if you’re in the NFL?

Colter: I’ll always be a supporter and I’ll always be involved in some regard, but I would never let that interfere with what I can give a team. Making it to the NFL comes first, it’s been a lifelong dream. Hopefully teams can view the CAPA stuff as a sign of leadership and loyalty.

The Daily: What has your journey been like, from being inserted as a true freshman, to winning the Gator Bowl to being the face of this movement?

Colter: It’s been a roller coaster man. A lot of emotions, lot of growing experiences, not just as a football player. I really developed, My time at Northwestern really developed me into the man I am today. I’ve met so many people throughout this journey that have opened my eyes to things.

The Daily: What was your lowest moment during the union process? Did you ever regret becoming so heavily involved?

Colter: I never had a moment that low. For me, I have faith. I knew what we were doing is right. In my heart, I knew. The lowest moments were the times people said I was going against my university or coach Fitz. When people said I was backstabbing the program. That was difficult, I’m not going to lie. But this is a lot bigger, this isn’t about Northwestern, it took a smart school l to do this and I’m glad it was us.

The Daily: What message do you hope the victory at the Chicago NLRB sends the NCAA?

Colter: I hope it sends a message that you have to start dealing with the players. You have to start listening to their voice. Every time the NCAA talks about things, it’s been behind closed doors. Now, you have to start talking to the players.

Email: rohannadkarni2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @Rohan_NU