02 May

UAB becomes first Division I team to join players association seeking fair compensation for college athletes

UAB’s entire football team has signed with The Athletes Organization, a players association aimed at representing the interests of college athletes at a national level, it was announced on Monday. Blazers coach Trent Dilfer, who was a member of the NFL Players Association, was a major catalyst behind the decision.

UAB is the first Division I school to enter such an agreement with a noted players association.

“You guys have followed the conversation in college football. People are making a lot of money,” Dilfer said while addressing his team in a video posted by Athletes.org. “Billions of dollars. How much are you getting? The actual money that’s negotiated for you to play on TV, you are getting none of. So who’s getting it? The conference and the institutions. I’m one of the few people who believes you deserve some of that.”

For the first time in history, a Players Association for college athletes presented its entire solution to a team and its staff. After the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s football team heard https://t.co/GyRYIKxTK9’s (AO) full presentation, the entire team decided to become… pic.twitter.com/pMCudEhJ7v

— The Athletes Organization (@AthletesOrg) April 29, 2024
Given the recent changes allowing athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, and a litany of recent lawsuits challenging the NCAA’s ability to govern its member institutions and assert its status as a potential monopoly, revenue-sharing models for athletes have become a hot-button issue. Prominent figures such as former Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh — who led the Wolverines to a 15-0 season and a win in the College Football Playoff National Championship last season — have come forth in support of players getting a cut of revenue generated by television deals and other opportunities at the conference level.

It’s in that environment that Athletes.org has started to gain momentum. Brandon Copeland, who played linebacker at Penn and spent 10 years in the NFL after entering as an undrafted free agent, serves as the organization’s CEO.

“The reason why we spend time doing Athletes.org is cause, frankly, I just want to see y’all eat,” Copeland said while visiting UAB. “I want to see y’all win. I’m tired of seeing people take advantage of us. Who represents the athletes? Who’s going to be fighting for you to get a bigger piece? We like to say that decisions are being made about you without you.”

In addition to Copeland, several prominent former college athletes serve on Athlete.org’s board, including Georgia alum Omari Hardwick, former All-SEC safety and Alabama star Roman Harper and ex-Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim.

Athlete.org also lists several current basketball players, such as North Carolina’s RJ Davis and Duke’s Jeremy Roach, as members of its association. Veteran Alabama defensive back Malachi Moore, who’s entering his fifth season as a starter with the Crimson Tide, is the only football player included publicly on the list of members thus far.

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