Roy Exum: An Uprising

Monday, September 23, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

College football – now at full throttle –  had a new twist on Saturday when three new letters appeared on players from at least five different teams. The letters, written with Sharpie pens usually used to give autographs, were “APU,” which stands for “All Players United” and it means that college athletes are nearing the end of their rope.

It is no secret that the NCAA, the ruling body of college athletics, is under siege and the cry to pay college athletes is getting louder by the week. Universities rake in millions each year in TV revenue but the players are not allowed a penny of it. Last week former University of Tennessee star Arian Foster admitted he took illegal payments as a senior before he signed with the NFL Houston Texans. Why? He needed food and money for rent.

Dick Vitale, the college basketball guru who is showing his age spots at 74, promptly tagged Foster as a “prostitute,”  (he later apologized) but Foster’s case brought a dramatic point home. College athletes are weary of getting none of the lush revenue and while they get a full scholarship, quite often many don’t have family members back home still sending an allowance.

So along comes the fledgling National College Players Association and organizers are now asking college athletes to signal “APU” on taped wrists, socks or wherever they can reveal to the public that the college football slaves have had enough of the silly rules and overbearing penalties the NCAA has used for years to keep a thumb on the very ones the fans come to see.

Foster spoke out on an upcoming documentary about college football that is titled, “Schooled: The Price of College Sports. He told the cameras during the 90-minute documentary, “There were plenty of times where throughout the month I didn't have enough for food. Our stadium had like 107,000 seats; 107,000 people buying a ticket to come watch us play. It's tough just like knowing that, being aware of that.

“We had just won and I had a good game, 100 yards or whatever,” he said. “You go outside and there's hundreds of kids waiting for you. You're signing autographs, taking pictures, whatever. Then I walk back, and reality sets in. I go to my dorm room, open my fridge, and there's nothing in my fridge. Hold up, man. What just happened? Why don't I have anything to show for what I just did?

Foster said it was dehumanizing. “There was a point where we had no food, no money, so I called my coach and I said, 'Coach, we don't have no food. We don't have no money. We're hungry. Either you give us some food, or I'm gonna go do something stupid.' The coach came down and he brought like 50 tacos for like four or five of us. Which is an NCAA violation. (laughs) But then, the next day I walk up to the facility and I see my coach pull up in a brand new Lexus. Beautiful."

The “APU” markings were seen Saturday on players from Georgia, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, and several other schools. Ramogi Huma, the president of NCPA, said he expected many more to wear the letters as the season progresses. "They're taking the reform effort to television, which has never been done,” he told ESPN. “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."

A joint study by the NCPA and the Drexel University Sports Management Department came up with some alarming findings. The average full athletic scholarship at an FBS school is hardly a free ride; it left “full” players with a scholarship shortfall (out-of-pocket expenses) of $3,285 during the 2011-12 school year. At the University of Texas, for instance, football players will be denied approximately $2.2 million, incur scholarship shortfalls of over $14,000, and live below the federal poverty line by $784 per year between 2011-15.

In 2011 the NCAA had income of $837.7 million and assets of $837.7 million. Gregg Easterbrook, writes in his new book, "The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America"), “At many big-college sports programs the athletic department is structured as an independent organization that leases campus space and school logos, then operates a tax-exempt business over which the school's president and board of trustees have little control."

Easterbrook points out that when Auburn notes that when it won the 2010 national championship, its net football income was $37 million, just a bit less than the $43 million of that season's NFL champion, the Green Bay Packers. The head coach, Gene Chizik, was paid $3.5 million that year because he was such a “wonderful mentor to our students.” But many of the Auburn scholarship players, due to NCAA limitations, were living below poverty level.

The National College Players Association plans to focus on four main areas:

• 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 vs. 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."

The NCAA, upon hearing the “APU” statements were being seen in Saturday’s games, issued a quick statement Saturday night: “"As a higher education association, the NCAA supports open and civil debate regarding all aspects of college athletics," NCAA Director of Public and Media Relations Stacey Osburn said in a statement. “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."

Finally, the kicker: It has been learned that the National College Players Association is being supported by the U.S. Steelworkers Union.

royexum@aol.com


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

David Carroll: Who Rescues People From A Burning House? These Guys!

I’m as bad as anybody else.  Sometimes I get into a lazy, stereotypical mindset. I start believing that most 17-year-old boys stay out late, wake up really late, and have only one thing on their mind.  I love it when I’m proven wrong. Let me tell you what happened Thursday night.  Central High junior Jacob Gray and Ooltewah High junior Mason Chamberlain ... (click for more)

Signal Council, Residents Concerned About Unsafe Driving En Route To Schools

The town council of Signal Mountain is dealing with a traffic problem caused by increased traffic to and from Signal Mountain Middle High School and Nolan Elementary. Mayor Dick Gee said, “This is a tough issue that we wouldn’t have to deal with if everyone would drive responsibly.” The main concern is for safety and in November the council agreed to try to fix the problem by ... (click for more)

88-Year-Old Woman In Bradley County Severely Burned After Going Back In Burning House For Pets

Two people were injured in a house fire in Bradley County on Friday.   Shortly before noon, Bradley County EMS responded to a reported house fire on Hancock Road.   Two ambulances and a shift commander responded. Initial reports were that there were two people injured. When EMS crews arrived, Bradley County firefighters were performing resuscitative ... (click for more)

Henderson's Heroics Lead Warrors Past Bears, 53-45

Kordell Stewart’s broad shoulders were more than enough to carry his White County teammates on a mind-boggling, second-half offensive assault rarely seen on basketball courts in the Chattanooga area, or anywhere else for that matter. Henderson scored White County’s first 16 points of the second half and powered the District 6-AAA champion Warriors to a 53-45 come-from-behind ... (click for more)

Brainerd, Central Boys Advance To Region 3-AA Hoop Finals

LOUDON, Tenn. -- Brainerd won both regular-season matchups while Central won at the Best of Preps third-place consolation game before capturing the District 6-AA title last week at Red Bank. The season tally is now two wins each against each other and now they are ready for Round 5 following the Region 3-AA semifinals here at Loudon High School Saturday afternoon. Brainerd ... (click for more)