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College Students Worry Athlete Unionization Will Negatively Impact Them, Survey Finds

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In this Sept. 5, 2013 photo, a student athlete works out on the indoor practice field at the John McKay Center, an athletic facility on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. Call them football palaces, and no college football program can call itself big-time without one that will leave recruits wide-eyed. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

College students who are not playing for a sports team are largely opposed to the idea of student athletes forming unions, a new poll finds.

Nearly half -- 47 percent -- opposed student athlete unions to just 29 percent in favor, with the rest unsure, according to a survey of 900 students by college marketing agency Fluent. Ninety-four percent of the respondents identified as non-athletes.

Whether or not to allow students to unionize has become a heated debate following the National Labor Relations Board decision approving Northwestern University's football team's quest to unionize. The NCAA is aggressively lobbying against any notion of unionizing or paying student athletes, despite the millions being made by some teams.

Students have a number of fears about possible negative impacts from athletes unionizing: 51 percent are worried about inequities between different sports, and 53 percent were concerned about inequities between student athletes and non-athletes. Nearly one-in-two said they believed it would hurt financial aid for non-athletes and could increase the cost of college, or could impact departmental revenue.

“From our conversations with college students, it's clear this issue matters to more than just the student-athlete," Michael Carey, EVP of Fluent, said in a statement with the survey results. "It has the potential to significantly impact the entire college community."

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