Northwestern's players voted on unionizing Friday but we won't know the results anytime soon

Nick Bromberg
Historic day as Northwestern players decide union
An unidentified Al Jazeera cameraman watches Northwestern football players Chris Gradone and Zach Oliver, right, as they walk to McGaw Hall where voting is taking place on the student athlete union question Friday, April 25, 2014, in Evanston, Ill. Northwestern football players cast secret ballots Friday in an on-campus hall adjacent to their home stadium on whether to form the nation's first union for college athletes. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Northwestern's players had their opportunity to vote via secret ballot on a union Friday. But unlike a political election where we have an idea of what's happening as soon as votes are cast, it's going to be a while until the results from the vote are revealed.

Players voted in a room on Northwestern's campus Friday morning monitored by National Labor Relations Board staffers. The NLRB's regional office ruled in March that the Northwestern players had the opportunity to unionize as they were employees of the university.

Northwestern is appealing the decision to the NLRB's national office. A ruling could take months and the results of the voting won't be revealed until then. Depending on the national office's ruling, it may not be the only appeal, either.

The regional board's ruling applies to scholarship players on the roster for the upcoming season, so 76 players were eligible to vote Friday morning. For a union to become a reality, a majority of players have to vote yes. Many players declined to talk to the media as they walked in to vote.

Northwestern has done it's best to pressure players to vote no. Coach Pat Fitzgerald has pitted the vote as a referendum of sorts. Because the ballot is secret, no one will know (without telling) who voted for what. But if the union effort passes, it's hard to see how it wouldn't be at least a subtle vote against Northwestern and its treatment of its players.

However, Asking if that will happen, of course, is the million-dollar question. Kain Colter, the leader of the union efforts, was a senior in 2013. He's preparing for the NFL draft and ineligible to vote. Do more people vote yes if Colter is still on campus?

Current quarterback Trevor Siemian has said he's not going to vote for a union. Running back Venric Mark, a fifth-year senior in 2014, called the movement Colter's. Other players have wondered if the players who filled out union cards wondered what they were getting into.

Based off those public comments, it's no guarantee a union will be in the future when the appeals process is over. But no matter what, the simple occurrence of this vote means the NCAA empire is indeed threatened. 

- - - - - - -

Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!