- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday he wasn’t ready to discuss the stunning ruling on American college athletics issued while he was traveling to New Zealand.

Duncan is attending the International Summit on the Profession of Teaching and told The Associated Press that the ruling came after he boarded the plane for the long journey.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled on Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University in Illinois can unionize and essentially be treated as employees under U.S. law. The ruling could have massive consequences for the multibillion-dollar college sports industry.

“I missed it in transition, and obviously I’ve been focused here,” he said. “So I’m happy to talk about it when I’m up to speed on what happened.”

He said he’d learned as a college basketball player himself that getting an education needed to be the top priority.

“I grew up with many players who were extraordinary athletes, who went to college, who made a lot of money for the universities and, in some cases, left with no degree and had nothing to show for it,” he said. “They didn’t quite make the NBA, and had very tough lives after that. So this one’s very personal to me.”

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