By Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal agency ruled that football players at a private Chicago University can be the first college athletes in the country to unionize. KYW’s Tim Jimenez spoke with a local expert on what this means for the future of college athletics.

An official with the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern University football players are actually school employees. Their work generates profits and, the argument is, they should be able to form a union.

“Very significant, and it does have potentially very large ramifications,” says Dr. Karen Weaver, a Clinical professor of sports management at Drexel.

She says this push, backed by a group called the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), is about more than just players getting paid.

“Is it realistic that you’re asking an athlete to go 50 or 60 hours a week during the summer and not consider that more than a full-time job? There’s a lot of questions that still need to be addressed,” Dr. Weaver said.

Northwestern plans to appeal and the NCAA expressed disappointment in the ruling. As of now, Weaver says this only affects private schools, including those close to home.

“In the city of Philadelphia, all of the Big 5 schools, except for Temple, would be under this ruling,” she said.

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