On Saturday, twenty six football players from at least four different teams in four different BCS conferences took the field sporting equipment marked with the acronym “APU” -All Players United- to protest the NCAA on issues “from concussions to compensation.”
Five offensive linemen from Georgia as well as the quarterbacks of Georgia Tech and Northwestern made up part of the high profile players supporting this movement.
The National College Players Association, a student-athlete advocacy group, recruited the players to mark their gear and use the social media hashtags #AllPlayersUnited and #APU. The players also participated in weekly teleconferences with the NCPA.
The NCPA released a statement just after the noon kickoff on Saturday stating their goals (seen below or on their website) and asking for “a portion of its over $1 billion in new TV revenue to guarantee basic protections.” Protections such as guaranteed scholarship renewals for permanently injured players, no cost to players for sports-related medical bills, an increase in scholarships up to $5,000, and the creation of a “trust fund” that players could use after their eligibility expires for educational expenditures.
The reaction from coaches was mainly positive with only talking heads and executives calling for punishment. However, both Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said their teams should discuss and decide whether or not to support the movement collectively. But, the coaches thought it was done respectfully and therefore saw no reason for backlash.
All Players United Campaign goals:
- Demonstrate unity among college athletes and fans in favor of NCAA reform.
- Show support for 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.”
- Show 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 former players.”
- Stand behind individual players being “harmed by NCAA rules.”