- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Backers of an effort to unionize Northwestern University football players are praising a federal agency’s landmark ruling.

A regional director of National Labor Relations Board said Wednesday that players are employees under federal law and can form the nation’s first college athletes’ union.

Former Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter took a leading role in establishing the College Athletes Players Association. He says in a written statement that the decision is a “win for both the players and the football program.”

He says it’ll make Northwestern’s football team stronger because players will have a say in issues that “affect their well-being.”

The United Steelworkers union has footed the legal bills. Union lawyers argued the Big Ten school’s players are part of a commercial enterprise that generates hefty profits through their labor.