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Silent Protest Highlights Players Rights Movement


Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee was one of several players to participate in
the "All Players United" protest.

 

Players from at least three NCAA FBS teams participated in a protest to raise awareness for an NCAA student athlete rights program.

Players from Georgia, Northwestern and Georgia Tech wrote three simple letters on their wrist tape or towels on Saturday. The letters, A.P.U., stand for "All Players United." All Players United is the brainchild of the National Collegeiate Players Association, an advocacy group led by former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma.

Huma told Tom Farrey of ESPN's Outside the Lines that the protest has been months in the making. Huma told Farrey, "They're taking the reform effort to television, which has never been done. They've been using their bodies to make money for the people who run NCAA sports. Now, for the first time, they're using their bodies to push for basic protections at the very least."

According to ESPN, the NCAA did not respond to a question about players being allowed to mark up their wrist tape with slogans. However, the NCAA did release a statement in response to the protest. In that statement, NCAA Stacey Osburn wrote:

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 potential.


Kain Colter wrote "APU" on his black wrist tape for the game against Maine.

 

Among the players who wrote the letters on their gear were Georgia Tech quarterbacks Vad Lee and Justin Thomas as well as defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu. Kain Colter of Northwestern was one of several Wildcats to participate.

For the Georgia Bulldogs, it was five offensive linemen, including Kolton Houston, who sat out three years because of a failed drug test that rendered him ineligible until this season. Houston was administred an anabolic steroid to help his recovery from shoulder surgery in high school, and even though it was a medically administered steroid, he failed an NCAA drug test and only won an appeal to play before this season.

Huma expects the protest to grow as the season progresses, and it will be interesting to see how this progresses. Starting with football might be the key, as it and men's basketball are usually the bell cows for intercollegiate athletics. If the players in those sports are starting to utilize their strength in numbers and raising a ruckus for their rights, and the O'Bannon lawsuit continues unabated, the NCAA may have to face some serious questions about its long term viability.

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