Stanford coach David Shaw issued his first public comments Monday on a federal agency's decision last week to allow Northwestern football players to unionize.

He did not stand on the side of the players.

"I'm curious what's really driving it,'' Shaw said after the Cardinal's first practice following a three-week hiatus for exams and spring break.

"I've seen everything, and my understanding is it's been provided. I think Northwestern does a phenomenal job providing for their kids, and it's weird to try to unionize but still compliment Northwestern on being taken care of. Those things don't seem to go hand in hand."

The decision, by the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, is restricted to Northwestern but has the potential to impact players at private schools. The NLRB has no jurisdiction over public universities.

Shaw said there have been "preliminary conversations" about the issues with the Stanford players but that he won't go into detail "until we see where it's going."

Backed by the College Athletes Players Association, the Northwestern players are primarily seeking post-career medical benefits, better concussion testing, the formation of an educational fund and scholarships guaranteed for four years.

Salaries and the right to seek commercial endorsements are secondary issues at this point.

Stanford defensive end Henry Anderson said the players have monitored the developments at Northwestern but added that "there hasn't been any big discussion.

"We've been focused on football,'' he added. "We're not too involved.''

  • Receiver Ty Montgomery missed the first session and won't participate in the second as he recovers from a knee injury suffered in the Rose Bowl. Montgomery also had elbow surgery. He is expected to be healthy for training camp.

  • The second session of spring practice culminates April 12 with the spring game at 1 p.m.

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.

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