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Reaction to ruling that college football players at Northwestern can form a union

Reaction to the ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that football players at Northwestern University can create the nation's first union of college athletes.

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"The record makes clear that the employer's scholarship players are identified and recruited in the first instance because of their football prowess and not because of their academic achievement in high school ... no examples were provided of scholarship players being permitted to miss entire practices and/or games to attend their studies." — Peter Sung Ohr, NLRB regional director in a decision issued Wednesday.

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"We strongly disagree with the notion that student-athletes are employees. We frequently hear from student-athletes, across all sports, that they participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the love of their sport, not to be paid." — NCAA statement.

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"Notwithstanding today's decision, the SEC does not believe that full time students participating in intercollegiate athletics are employees of the universities they attend." — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive.

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"Although we have not yet read the ruling, we are aware that the National Labor Relations Board's regional director in Chicago has ruled that student-athletes at Northwestern University are entitled to have the opportunity to form a labor union. We disagree with the ruling and believe that health and economic issues raised by student-athletes are best handled as part of the collegiate model, between universities and their students." — Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.

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"While we respect the process followed by the National Labor Relations Board, we disagree with the ruling. We don't believe that student-athletes are university employees. The issues raised during the hearings are already being discussed at the national level, and we believe that students should be a part of the conversation." — Statement from the Big Ten Conference.

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"It's like preparing so long for a big game and then when you win — it is pure joy." — former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma, designated president of Northwestern's would-be football players' union and founder of the National College Players Association, an advocacy group for college athletes.

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"Imagine a university's basketball players striking before a Sweet Sixteen game demanding shorter practices, bigger dorm rooms, better food, and no classes before 11 a.m. This is an absurd decision that will destroy intercollegiate athletics as we know it." — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former president of the University of Tennessee and former U.S. secretary of education under George H.W. Bush.

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"A terrific decision by the NLRB today for Kain Colter, Ramogi Huma and the brave Northwestern athletes. Kain Colter and Ramogi Huma are this generation's leaders and history will look back on them in the same light as Curt Flood and John Mackey. The only question now is who will have the courage to match and join you. I hope the athletes playing in the Sweet 16 take note." — NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith wrote in a series of tweets

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"That's the first time I've heard about that. But having somebody or a group of people speaking out for an entire group of people like the NCAA athletes, it really helps. It gets a good perspective from how student-athletes think and where they're coming from. I don't know what that entails as of right now, but in the future I guess it would be another way to get our voice out and let other people hear us." — Arizona freshman basketball player Aaron Gordon.

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"No perfect solution. Very, very complex situation. Union isn't the answer, but I think it's obvious that something needs to change." — former Missouri receiver T.J. Moe on Twitter.