Union attorneys suggested that the highly regimented structure of football at Northwestern, and the tight control of players’ daily lives, essentially make it a business, and the relationship of the school to the players was one of an employer to employee.
Fitzgerald acknowledged that a long list of rules applies to football players but not to other students. That includes random drug tests and requirements that leases for off-campus housing for players be approved by the coaching staff.
Kohlman also walked through the time demands on players, singling out a day before and the day of an away game in 2012 against Michigan, which the Wildcats lost 38-31 in overtime.
While the players attended team meetings and took a five-hour bus trip to Michigan, official NCAA logs on time the team spent on football that day was 1 hour, 8 minutes. After waking at 7:30 a.m. on game day, playing the game and returning home after 10 p.m., the log said players spent three hours on football, Fitzgerald said.
Colter has said that nearly all of the 85 scholarship players on the Wildcats roster back the union bid, though only he has expressed his support publicly.
While Fitzgerald clearly attempted to fortify the university’s position against the union, he never said directly on the stand that he opposed the establishment of a union.
Outside the hearing, the designated president of the proposed union, former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma, said he thought Fitzgerald’s testimony as a whole helped the union position.
And he didn’t think the pro-union players would hold a grudge against him.
“We told the players the university will disagree (with unionization) and (that Fitzgerald) is a part of the university,” he said. “I don’t think any of the players will hold his testimony against him.”
Follow Michael Tarm at https://twitter.com/mtarm .