Vitabile on union at Northwestern: 'Change wouldn't happen here'

Vitabile on union at Northwestern: 'Change wouldn't happen here'
April 26, 2014, 3:45 pm
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Vinnie Duber

If Northwestern center Brandon Vitabile is correct, that union vote will end in a big "no" at Northwestern.

Vitabile told ESPN.com that he doesn't believe enough of his teammates voted "yes" for unionization during Friday's vote for the Northwestern players to form a union. According to the ESPN report, 39 of 76 Wildcats would have had to vote "yes" for the union to become a reality. Instead, as was alluded to earlier, the much talked about movement might never truly get off the ground.

Vitabile, a senior who served as a captain on last year's team, assures that rumored pressuring by university employees, potentially including the coaching staff, was not the reason for what he believes will be a majority of "no" votes.

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

[MORE: Could Northwestern union be busted by players themselves?]

Instead, Vitabile echoed the sentiments made by other teammates, including quarterback Trevor Siemian, who were simply not in favor of forming a union, believing the treatment of student-athletes at Northwestern to be excellent.

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

"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."

The results of the vote won't be released by the National Labor Relations Board until after the university makes its appeal. But if the feelings of Vitabile and Siemian prove to be correct and Northwestern players mostly voted "no," it could be a big blow to the movement championed by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, a step back for those who believe extensive reform is needed in the NCAA.