Alumni advocacy groups shares platform for college athlete change

Alex Putterman, Sports Editor

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NU Game Changers, a group of Northwestern alumni advocating for college athletes’ rights, announced its goals at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The group read a 10-point list of proposed changes for revenue-producing sports at NU. The “blueprint of broad principles” proposes an increased living stipend, expanded medical benefits, guaranteed athletic scholarships beyond four years, transportation for players returning to school and more.

NU Game Changers leader Kevin Brown read a letter the group has sent to the NU Board of Trustees.

“As a private NCAA institution, Northwestern is in a unique position to lead,” the letter said. “The University should begin by making modifications to the governance process to give players a greater voice and a substantive stake in the creation of policies and regulations that impact their interests.”

The statement also expressed support for former NU quarterback Kain Colter, who spearheaded the movement for player unionization, but did not take a position on his cause. The team will vote Friday on whether to form a union.

In addition to Brown, former players Alex Moyer, Rick Telander, Todd Jenkins and Mike Adamle spoke at the news conference.

“The main reason I got involved and what sparked all of this is Kain Colter,” Moyer said. “His heroic stance, his leadership and his courage in bringing all this together, what it did was really galvanize the movement among former players. It really sparked something in us.”

Telander, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, said he has recused himself from writing about the issue and devoted himself instead to enacting change.

“We would like Northwestern to be first and best,” he said. “We don’t want to see this groundswell movement co-opted by any other school.”

Telander made clear NU Game Changers’ focus is not the proposed union, to be voted on Friday, but the overall cause of athletes’ rights.

Brown would not go into specifics about how to implement the group’s platform under the NCAA framework but said aspects of the blueprint are attainable through direct negotiation with the University.

Multiple NU Game Changers leaders expressed worry about other former players attempting to affect the union vote in recent weeks.

“We were concerned there were outside parties not directly affiliated with the University influencing the players,” Todd Jenkins said. “The process should not be contaminated by outside factors.”

Brown said the group’s leaders have received positive feedback from many, including players, coach Pat Fitzgerald, athletic director Jim Phillips and others.The group will work continuously with the administration to enact aspects of their platform, he said.

Twitter: @AlexPutt02