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North Carolina student-athletes or employees?

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Student- Athlete's…are they players or employees? Student- Athlete's…are they players or employees?
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

Student- Athlete's…are they players or employees? That is the BIG question many local universities are now asking since the State Employee Association of North Carolina opened its membership to student athletes on May 16th.

S.E.A.N.C's Director, Toni Davis, she said their new membership stems from labor officials allowing football players at Northwestern to create the nation's first union of college athletes. Now, S.E.A.N.C what's to be the first organization in North Carolina to welcome student-athletes.

Their membership is open to all student-athletes who are on scholarships, and attend 1 of the 17 public campuses of North Carolina.  Once registered student-athletes will get the same benefits as any other state employee. However, Toni said the main benefit they are providing is their advocacy services to the student-athletes.

"This is their chance to make sure they are heard.  The more voices we have the stronger we are."

UNCW's Athletic Department was not ready to make a statement on student-athletes becoming state employee's; however we spoke to several local fans who told us their opinions.

"When you are in college and you are playing a sport all year you don't have time to have a real job, not even in the off season," said Willard Grantius, a fan fanatic.  "So anything to help you with costs is a good thing."

However, Kevin Terry felt differently about the unions' newest membership.

"How can you have firefighters and police officers who are risking their lives everyday receiving the benefits?" questions Kevin.  "Then student-athletes who are choosing to play sports receive the same benefits?  That's not right.  That's not the same thing."

We asked Toni how they plan to handle some of these questions and she replied,

"Let's not put the horse before the cart."

She made sure to explain this membership is currently available to the student-athletes, but they still are in the early stages of planning and developing the finer details.

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