Kansas players join APU movement

Kansas football players joined a growing national
athletes’ rights campaign Saturday by marking their gear with
the letters “APU” for “All Players
United.”

The APU campaign was launched two weeks ago when 28 football
players from Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Northwestern made national
headlines by writing APU on their gear during televised games as a
sign of unified support in pursuit of better protections and
benefits for college athletes.

Several Kansas football players, including Keon Stowers, wrote
APU on their gear to voice their support for NCAA reform.

The APU campaign was designed by current athletes that reside on
the Players Council for the
National College Players
Association
(NCPA), an advocacy group founded by former UCLA
football player Ramogi Huma.

Huma founded the organization while playing football at UCLA
after watching the NCAA suspend Donnie Edwards, an All-American
teammate, for accepting a bag of groceries when his refrigerator
was empty and his scholarship check ran out.

The players who came up with the campaign initially wanted to
show support for other current players that were criticized on
social media for joining the
O’Bannon
v. NCAA lawsuit.

Experts say that the lawsuit could redirect billions of dollars
into a trust fund for former athletes, many of whom face chronic
injuries and have yet to complete their degrees.

APU advocates added a number of goals including concussion
reform, benefits, and post-career medical coverage.

“While the NFL and NFLPA have negotiated extensive and
meaningful concussion reform policies, the NCAA has done little to
nothing to protect its players,” Huma told FOXSports.com. While the
NFL and Pop Warner Football has reduced hitting in practice the
NCAA has yet to make any preventative measures.”

To underscore their claim about the NCAA’s position on
concussions, the NCPA points to an internal email from the
NCAA’s Director of Enforcement Chris Strobel that stated,
“It would not be appropriate for enforcement to suspend or
otherwise penalize a coach pursuant to the current legislation even
if the student-athlete was required to participate after having
been diagnosed with a concussion.”

Medical coverage is also a major APU concern.

“Few people understand that when a player goes down in a
game wearing school colors that he or she might be left to pay the
medical bills,” Huma said. “APU advocates seek to ensure that
players are never left to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses.”

The APU campaign also seeks to establish an educational trust
fund to increase graduation rates and increase scholarships equal
to the cost of attendance, which is the price tag at each school.
Currently, the NCAA admits that it caps every “full” athletic
scholarship in the nation by about $3,000-$5,000 per player each
year.

Because of this scholarship shortfall, Huma says players can
have a difficult time paying for basic necessities like food.

In an interview for “Schooled,” a documentary
scheduled to be aired on EPIX this month, Houston Texans’
star running back Arian Foster revealed that he accepted food from
his coach and money from other sources during his senior year while
playing football for Tennessee because his scholarship wasn’t
enough. Such gifts would be NCAA violations.

The NCPA says that players intend to wear APU on their gear
during games until the reforms become reality. However, players
that wore APU during their games at each of the original three
schools that launched the campaign have not worn APU in subsequent
games as talks are underway with their respective coaches and
administrators.

APU players are asking for other players, fans, and supporters
to sign the APU petition and get involved with social media and APU
legislative efforts to enact new laws. The NCPA says it will give
updates about the campaign and athletes’ rights on it
s Twitter
account.