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Irish Insights

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Notre Dame's Kelly won't deter union talk

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn't plan to meet with his football team and discuss what a union could or could not mean for student-athletes.

But he also said Friday, he wouldn't stand in the way of any player who wanted to look into it.

"We would respect anything that our players would want to do relative to their creativity, their ability to want to talk about things of that nature," Kelly said. "I think that's one of the great things about being in the university setting. You're never going to squash or hold students back from that kind of dialogue."

Kelly's comments come after the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Northwestern football players in saying the scholarship players are employees of the university and can hold an election on whether to unionize. Northwestern said it planned to appeal the ruling.

While Kelly wouldn't discourage his players from investigating what forming a union would mean, he also doesn't want to change the relationship he feels he has now with student-athletes.

"I'm a teacher, I'm an educator. I'm more interested in relationships based on player-coach than employee," Kelly said. "As much as we want to be in an atmosphere where we create a creative learning environment, I also want to be individually in a place where I'm an educator. I'm a teacher. Where ever that meets is kind of where I stand on."

Kelly said he hasn't thought about if a possible union for student-athletes would be good for college football.

"I think I've looked at it more as a microcosm. Like, do they tax your scholarship?" Kelly said. "I've looked at it that way and I haven't looked at it in a big picture sense."

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