SBD/September 24, 2013/Colleges

Georgia Tech Players Unlikely To Wear "APU" Protest Marks Again This Week

Cummings says the team would have to fully agree on wearing the protest marks
Georgia Tech DT Euclid Cummings said that he "doesn't expect any players" will again wear the letters "APU" as a protest against the NCAA during their Thursday night game against Virginia Tech, according to Charles Odum of the AP. Cummings said, "I don't think it'll continue. It has to be something we all agree on. I just feel like we don't need that." Cummings added that continued participation could cause a distraction "because it was so hyped up." GT coach Paul Johnson yesterday said that none of his players "have mentioned the movement since Saturday," when QB Vad Lee and others wore the acronym for "All Players United" on wristbands and other gear. Johnson added that GT players that participated in last week's protest "should have first given all players on the team a chance to vote on the idea." He said that the coaches and "most players had no idea" the players were wearing the protest marks. Johnson: "If the players all feel strongly about an issue, then they need to talk about it as a team and let the coaches know and it needs to be a team thing. Six guys don't represent the team, or whatever, when 80 of them don't even know what's going on and the coaches don't know what's going on. If that's the case and they want to support something, then certainly they have that right." Odum noted some Georgia and Northwestern players also had the letters APU on their gear Saturday "in a show of solidarity for changes in the NCAA that was organized by the National College Players Association, an advocacy group that has pushed for athletes to receive more scholarship money, better health care and more say in NCAA rules" (AP, 9/23).

START OF SOMETHING BIG? CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd noted Saturday's protest "became a national story covered by national outlets." Dodd asked, "If players from Georgia, Georgia Tech and a Northwestern quarterback are involved, who's next?" The players "talked openly and proudly of what they have created." But NCPA President Ramogi Huma stressed that the idea of a "full-on protest never moved out of the meeting room." Huma said, "What those guys did is going to inspire other guys. There is an outlet to put pressure on the NCAA to do right for its athletes." Dodd wrote Huma and the players "now have the leverage in this battle," and the players are "just now realizing their leverage." Dodd: "Just imagine players deciding to delay the start of a game by 10 minutes as a symbolic protest. That could conceivably destroy a network's precious broadcast 'window.' And that might be enough" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/23). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "I think the NCAA will declare this illegal almost immediately and try and stop it" ("PTI," ESPN, 9/23).

UNION THE NEXT STEP?
 In Birmingham, Jon Solomon writes, "Amid many unanswered questions of where college sports is headed, this much seems clear: The NCPA has become the players' most unifying voice." The organization "provides the most unified group of current players." It is "still a relatively small collection of players who are speaking out, although the NCAA is no longer completely avoiding the NCPA's efforts." Huma has "played a role in the O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA over the use of college athletes' names, images and likenesses." Drake Group Exec Committee member David Ridpath, whose organization campaigns for academic integrity in college sports, said, "I think Ramogi is the one who has the way to get things done. He can get the athletes to do things" (AL.com, 9/24). ESPN's Danny Kanell noted all pro sports have player unions with "one collective voice and I think that's something that's been lacking for student-athletes." But ESPN's Jemele Hill said, "You can't protest a system that you're hugely dependent on and are a part of. Anytime we've had any significant social change in the country, it has always come through a boycott or refusing to be a part of that system" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 9/23). 
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