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Kain Colter makes statement by promoting players movement

KaColter

Kain Colter

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Updated: September 25, 2013 9:22PM



Kain Colter could have sought permission from Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald before wearing two wristbands that read “APU” during the Wildcats’ 35-21 victory over Maine on Saturday.

But that would have defeated the purpose.

Colter is at the forefront of a movement called “All Players United.” He is a part of weekly conference calls that include players from across the nation. On one of those calls, it was determined that last Saturday players would wear the wristbands during their games.

The movement is an advocate for a number of hot-button issues in collegiate athletics. While no issue is most important, many are financially driven. APU is an advocate for former athletes who have been saddled with medical bills from long-term injuries they suffered in college. It also advocates compensating college athletes.

In the days since the Maine game, Fitzgerald has intimated that he was upset with how Colter handled the situation.

“I’m sure that he felt a little blind-sided by it,” Colter said. “But in my perspective, it’s tough to ask permission to be able to do something just because there’s a chance it could get shot down. The whole APU thing, it goes against having to ask permission to voice our opinions.”

Colter said that he approached a number of teammates before wearing the wristbands. He said he was not the only member of the team to do so Saturday. Colter declined to name Wildcats players or any other players around the country who wore the wristbands.

Specifying the names of the players involved in the movement would go against its mission of advocating for all college athletes.

“People shouldn’t take it as an individual message,” Colter said. “It’s a sign of unity and not individuality. It’s a sign of players coming together all over the nation. Not just football players — basketball players, tennis players — to be able to have our opinions heard.

“Even President Obama has said he’s worried about college football players because they don’t have a union and they don’t have anything to fall back on if [injuries happen].”

Colter said Wednesday he would be in favor of the NCAA establishing a trust fund for players that could be accessed after their collegiate careers. He ­cited increasing television revenues as a reason the NCAA should compensate its athletes.

He also addressed the issue of concussion evaluation, which is on the APU platform. The movement asks the NCAA to require that an independent medical professional be present at each game to conduct a concussion protocol.

Colter was concussed in the season opener at Cal on Aug. 31. He said in no way does his involvement in the APU indicate he believes his situation was handled inappropriately. Colter said his situation was handled professionally.

“Like I said to him, I’m fully in support of what he’s doing,” Fitzgerald said. “I just, again, would like it to be within the team structure. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as a person, for him as a student and obviously for him as a player. And I have been pretty steadfast in my comments about believing what is best for our student athletes.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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