Sherrod Brown Endorses Players' Effort To Unionize College Athletics

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UPDATED: Thursday March 27, 2014 9:01 PM

It's been hailed as a first down in the first quarter of what's expected to be a long game but today Ohio senator Sherrod Brown took a side in the controversial debate on whether college athletes should be able to unionize.

"I'm pulling for the quarterback at Northwestern to be able to to form a union if those players think they should," Brown told 10TV.  "These players - in practice - are working more than, in most cases, a 40 hour week.  They called them employees more than they were students."

In a surprising decision this week, the National Labor Relations Board sided with former quarterback Kain Colter and determined football players who are on scholarships are employees of the school and entitled to unionize.

The ruling could also open the door for athletes at public universities, like Ohio State, to move more quickly to unionize.  Brown says he would support that effort.

"The amount of money Ohio State football brings in, we've all seen pageantry either on TV or in person, and those players practice more than 40 hours a week, a lot more over many, many weeks," said Brown.  "They work incredibly hard, they're very talented.  The university makes a lot of money for selling the jerseys and selling the tickets and we know how expensive it is at an Ohio State game now.  If the players want to form a union they ought to be able to."

Northwestern University officials say they will appeal the ruling.

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