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Ramogi Huma, UCLA

Ramogi Huma (58) celebrating a fumble recovery with Damon Smith and Weldon Forde during Route 66. Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport.
Ramogi Huma (58) celebrating a fumble recovery with Damon Smith and Weldon Forde during Route 66. Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport.

As UCLA students, we enter the hallowed halls of Royce, energetic, excited and ready to change the world.  We follow UCLA Athletics to provide a reprieve from our hours of studying, building school spirit, and fostering an undying love for our alma mater. Yet college sports has a dirty secret on how athletes are treated.  Ramogi Huma, former UCLA linebacker, is bringing attention to this dirty secret and trying to change the world of college sports.

Huma was a linebacker for UCLA in the mid-nineties.  He wasn't a flashy, well known player - his total career stats has a total of two interceptions for two yards after being named co-defensive rookie of the year in 1995.  His playing career was cut short after a hip injury in 1998.  It was teammate Donnie Edwards that gave him the motivation for his life work.  Edwards was suspended by the NCAA for accepting a bag of groceries when his scholarship money ran out at the end of the month.  Huma realized that athletes receive very little in return for what they generate for their schools, and after earning a BA in Sociology and a MPH from UCLA, he founded the National College Players Association.

The mission of the NCPA is simple: to advocate for college athletes so they can voice their concerns and change NCAA rules.  Among their goals, the NCPA wants schools to be responsible for sports related injuries, raise scholarship amounts, and increase graduation rates.

The NCPA released a study highlighting how the full scholarships athletes receive leave them living below the federal poverty line, even when top football programs had players valued at half a million dollars each, based on revenue the team brought in each year.  The NCAA, in an indirect response, has since authorized an increase of $2000 per year in athletic scholarships, helping to alleviate some of the shortfall, but players are still below the poverty line.

Huma and the NCPA are working on more reforms, recently calling upon schools to take a portion of television revenues to be set aside for revenue sports players for payment upon graduation, allowing multi-year scholarships (currently athletic scholarships are on a year by year basis), protecting injured players from losing scholarships, and paying for sports related injury medical care.  UCLA football and basketball players have signed this petition, with punter Jeff Locke as their representative.

Huma's brought attention to an issue many have not considered - the treatment of student athletes - since the general public assumes student athletes are well cared for.  Unfortunately, the massive NCAA book of regulations keeps athletes away from doing something as simple as finding a job to help pay for expenses.  Ramogi Huma is working to change the conditions for all student athletes, and he is a truly inspirational, world changing Bruin.

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