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

href="http://www.polygon.com/2013/10/5/4803216/ea-sports-ncaa-football-cancellation-lawyers-never-intended">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.