Players' Movement Against NCAA Could Be Growing, Even As Some Coaches Question It
Players at Northwestern, Georgia and Georgia Tech last Saturday participated in a silent protest against the NCAA called "All Players United," and the fact that they did so "without any ramifications is a measure of dissatisfaction with the status quo" of the organization, according to Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com. APU is "likely to spread" in the era of social media. The NCAA statement that "supported open and civil debate all but gave the players a green light to continue to speak out." Maisel: "Some coaches won’t allow it -- coaches tend to be dictatorial -- but I don’t think the protest will peter out" (ESPN.com, 9/26). In Richmond, Paul Woody wrote, "No one should be surprised to see college football players with 'APU' written on their wristbands." A "number of people get rich from college athletics," and "none are college athletes." They "really do need 'that' and a lot more" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 9/26). In Las Vegas, Ed Graney wrote, "Slowly, surely, student-athletes are uniting with the common goal of fighting against rules they believe infringe on their rights, as much about the health of their bodies as the size of their wallets." It is "not a movement to take lightly" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/25). CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd noted Northwestern QB Kain Colter was the "highest profile name attached to the awareness campaign." Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said, "I told him I was disappointed in him, not that he believes in the cause and not that he was taking a role in that but … what we try to do collectively is team focused" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/24).
SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE? YAHOO SPORTS' Pat Forde, in addressing how Fitzgerald and GT coach Paul Johnson both thought players protesting should have asked team officials, wrote, "I don't like the way either man has handled the small and utterly benign 'APU' statements." The protest was "limited but significant." It was the "first organized, in-game athlete dissent I can remember on the collegiate level." It "did not disrupt the competition in any way," but the movement may have been "squashed at two elite academic schools that should value critical thinking." If the movement spreads "to other campuses, other coaches will have to deal with it as well -- and their reactions may well mirror the men at Northwestern and Georgia Tech." This is a topic that "makes everyone in authority positions in college sports nervous" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/25). ESPN's Trevor Matich noted university presidents "need to make sure that you are in control of how enumeration is increased towards student-athletes because the minute you allow some lawyer to get some definition to be made in a court allowing them to say these are employees, then all of a sudden the work situation of college football players will be defined by federal labor law." That "could be a huge problem" ("College Football Live," ESPN2, 9/25). In South Bend, Eric Hansen writes the campaign is "mostly symbolic at this point, too small and scattered to qualify as a movement," but the "potential is there to make big waves" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 9/27).
OTHER PLAYERS SUPPORT INITIATIVE: In Denver, John Henderson reports Univ. of Colorado players "won't write APU on their wristbands when they play at Oregon State on Saturday." Some were "unaware of what happened last weekend," but many "believe they should have more say in what the NCAA does." CU QB Connor Wood said of the notion, "I absolutely think so. The decisions they make directly affect us. We should have a voice more than we do now" (DENVER POST, 9/27).