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Kansas players join APU movement

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Brendon Ayanbadejo

Brendon Ayanbadejo is a 10-year NFL veteran who last played with the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens and is a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage rights. For more information, visit: http://www.brendonayanbadejo.net/

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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.

Tagged: Kansas, Ben Goodman

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