FoxSports.com previewed the March 17, 2014, meeting of the Knight Commission with an interview of one of its panelists:
Ramogi Huma is the founder and president of the National College Players Association. He has been advocating the cause of student-athletes since 2001. The issue of compensation for college athletes has come to the forefront and will be discussed at the Knight Commission meeting on March 17 in Miami.
Huma played college football at UCLA. He is a champion for the rights of student athletes, believing they should be compensated for their efforts on the field as well as receiving the educational benefits that a student-athlete scholarship provides. While student athletes education lasts a lifetime so do some of the injuries of playing collegiate athletics. Huma also believes the NCAA should implement a benefits package providing medical coverage and additional assistance as well.
Huma also serves as the President for the recently formed College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), which is helping Northwestern football players form a union. CAPA hopes to create an equitable policy for all student athletes, across the spectrum of collegiate sports who bring millions of dollars into their educational institutions.
FOXSports.com was able to catch up with Huma for an interview as he prepares for his date with the Knight Commission.
What progress have you seen in the movement?
Since I began publicly advocating for college athletes’ rights in 2001, I’ve seen a shift in public opinion concerning NCAA sports. America has become aware of unjust NCAA rules and how they negatively impact college athletes. Most people are outraged that injured players can be left to pay sports-related medical bills, can lose their scholarships when they’re injured, and are subject to unnecessary brain trauma risks. NCAA sports has reached a tipping point and comprehensive reform is now within college athletes’ reach.
Northwestern has been front and center player-wise. What other schools/players are involved. How big has this groundswell been?
We are not commenting on these issues at this time.
What, if any, interaction have you had with the NCAA and individual institutions?
In the past, every NCAA President since 2001 has refused to meet with us, despite the fact that we represent the only independent voice for thousands of college athletes. Interactions with universities have taken place primarily when they have opposed our efforts to pass new laws to protect college athletes. Since our Northwestern effort, the NCAA released a statement with the same poor arguments we’ve heard for the last several decades. Though we disagree with Northwestern about whether or not their football players are employees, our interactions with Northwestern have been professional and without hostility. In fact, Northwestern has praised its players for attempting to address important issues concerning their well-being.
What do you hope to gain from the Knight Commission appearance, and what do you look forward to through the Knight Commission event?
NCAA sports has done everything in its power to prevent players from having a seat at the table and is therefore largely out of touch with athletes’ needs. There are a number of athletic administrators that will be at the Knight Commission meeting and it’s my intention to provide them with the players’ perspective on what NCAA reform should look like.
What are the next steps, small goals, large goals, how long of a process do you think this will take?
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