N'western co-captain talks union

Brandon Vitabile

Northwestern center Brandon Vitabile said Saturday that he believes the team's vote to unionize won't pass because it just doesn't make sense for enough of the players, and not because of any anti-union rhetoric from the university.

"Before January, when this all started, we didn't hear of anyone on our team who asked for something and didn't get it," the redshirt senior and co-captain said. "So I'm not sure why we needed to change anything."

In order to unionize, 39 of the 76 players who voted on Friday in the presence of National Labor Relations Board representatives would have had to say yes to a union. The result of the vote is impounded and won't be known for a while.

In the past couple of days, plenty of attention was focused on the school's efforts to dissuade players from taking the union side, but Vitabile said he never felt any sort of pressure.

"No coach or anyone from the school ever threatened us," said Vitabile, who has started in 38 straight games. "And that whole idea that someone who voted pro-union wouldn't play or would get penalized in any way was total nonsense."

Even though many have called on the players to forge ahead (the effort to unionize is being spearheaded by former Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter and the College Athletes Players Association), Vitabile said Northwestern is just the wrong program.

"I understand the assumption people make that all student-athletes are mistreated, but the majority of us realize we're not in that group," Vitabile said. "What me and a lot of our teammates discovered is that the change wouldn't happen here. It would happen on the broad landscape. So why would we sacrifice all the relationships we have here with the staff and the university that we love -- a program and university that, as of a team, all of us have been given everything we were promised?"

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