Ruling Wednesday could dramatically change college football

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The college football season is over, but a ruling on Wednesday, March 26th could dramatically change what Saturday afternoons look like in the future. A federal agency gave football players at Northwestern University the right to form a union. The ruling could have an effect on other college athletic programs.

It is a landmark decision that could bring historic changes to college sports.

"This is the first step to having the right to negotiate," Tim Hawks, with Hawks Quindel law firm said.

On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Northwestern University football players and the College Athlete Players Association -- saying student athletes are considered employees of the university, and are eligible to form a union.

"On one hand it`s surprising because it is a remarkable decision. On the other hand, it just makes sense," Hawks said.

Hawks is a labor relations attorney. He says the ruling lays the groundwork for other athletes to follow suit.

"It`s a decision that`s about time," Hawks said.

"I think it gives the players across the country kind of a unified voice," former Badgers quarterback Peter Lee said.

Lee played football with the Badgers in the late 1990s.

"Certainly at Wisconsin, when you`re on scholarship, it felt like a full-time job. For the majority of the time, that was fine, because we all loved playing football," Lee said.

The issue goes to the full National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. for appeal. Depending on that ruling, this could spend years in the court system before any final decision is made.