Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Vad Lee (2) runs the ball in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Bobby Dodd Stadium.(Photo: Daniel Shirey, USA TODAY Sports)
There was a small but significant addition to the uniforms worn by a select number of FBS teams Saturday.
Tech players including quarterback Vad Lee, five Georgia offensive
linemen, Northwestern players including quarterback Kain Colter and
others playing on national television today are wearing the letters
"APU", for All Players United, on their equipment today.
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effort is coordinated by the National Collegiate Players Association,
an advocacy organization make up for and by former and current college
athletes. According to NCPA director Ramogi Huma, the impetus for the
APU statements was the criticism brought against a group of current NCAA
athletes who joined the O'Bannon name and likeness suit against the
NCAA, Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Co. this summer.
the athletes who joined as plaintiffs are Arizona linebacker Jake
Fischer and kicker Jake Smith, Clemson defensive back Darius Robinson,
Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham, and Minnesota tight end Moses
Alipate and wide receiver Victor Keise.
Huma told USA TODAY Sports
that a separate group of current athletes who sit on the NCPA's board
brainstormed came up with the APU idea to show solidarity and support.
"That was the catalyst, and from there players really started thinking
about the types of things they wanted to support," Huma said.
"Concussions is the highest priority. There are serious health and
safety issues they feel the NCAA is ignoring.
"They came up with a
way they felt comfortable to show unity. This is an effort, this is a
call for players of all sports, anyone who supports players pursuit of
NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said in a
statement, "As a higher education association, the NCAA supports open
and civil debate regarding all aspects of college athletics.
Student-athletes across all 23 sports provide an important voice in
discussions as NCAA members offer academic and athletic opportunities to
help the more than 450,000 student-athletes achieve their full
Huma said the members of the NCPA player council had
no concerns about being discreet about the markings. Georgia Tech
players wearing "APU" included Lee and star defensive end Jeremiah
Attaochu, among others. Five Georgia offensive linemen - David Andrews,
Chris Burnette, Kenarious Gates, Kolton Houston and John Theus - also
displayed the letters, Huma said. And Colter was one of a number of
Northwestern players who wore the letters in their game against Maine.
Huma said he expects the practice to continue beyond today.
think the way they see it, guys write things on those areas all the
time," Huma said. "Sometimes guys write biblical passages, some put area
codes, just different things. It's not anything different than what
they've been doing, other than it's the first time to make a statement
to better their futures and their situations.
"The intent is to continue on until the NCAA changes its rules."
On its web site,
the NCPA has a petition to join the All Players United movement to push
for positive change in conditions for college athletes and within the
NCAA. The most serious issue among the NCPA and the athletes it
advocates is concussions and player health and safety.
The campaign's stated goals are:
Demonstrate unity among college athletes and fans from different campuses seeking NCAA reform.
support for the players who joined concussion lawsuits against the
NCAA, which could force the NCAA to finally take meaningful steps to
minimize brain trauma in contact sports and provide resources for
current and former players suffering with brain injuries.
support for the players who stepped up in the O'Bannon v. NCAA, EA
Sports lawsuit regarding the use of players images/likeliness, which
could unlock billions of dollars in resources for current, future, and
Stand behind individual players being harmed by NCAA rules.
Direct a portion of over $1 billion in new TV revenue to guarantee basic protections: Guarantee scholarship renewals for permanently injured players; Ensure injured players are not stuck with sports-related medical bills; Increase scholarships $3-5k to cover the full cost of attendance; Minimize brain trauma in contact sports; Establish an educational lockbox (trust fund) to increase graduation rates
optimistic that more and more players will participate," Huma said. "I
think fans are fed up with a lot of this, too. They might have as much
leverage as the players themselves."