The University of Connecticut earned millions in its chase for a national championship this year. The head coach, Kevin Ollie, is set to earn nearly $2 million and also receive a handsome multi-million dollar contract extension. The university will receive payments in the millions for the title run. Everyone is going to get rich from the team’s achievements.
Shabazz Napier is the primary reason that the team has done so well this year. He is one of the best players in the country and has led the Huskies to the top of the basketball food chain. But despite everyone around him earning massive amounts of cash from his performance on the court, Napier says that he can’t even afford to buy food.
Napier recently upset the NCAA establishment by telling reporters that he goes to bed “starving” after being unable to buy food for himself.
The remarks came in light of the lasting debate over the compensation of college athletes that has gained momentum around the country. Northwestern University’s athletes struck a mighty blow to the system by finding a way to form a union, and the case is now being appealed by the university.
State Rep. Matthew Lesser says that Napier’s situation deserves the attention of lawmakers, who should support college athletes and their efforts to form labor unions.
“He says he’s going to bed hungry at a time when millions of dollars are being made off of him. It’s obscene,” Lesser said. “This isn’t a Connecticut problem. This is an NCAA problem, and I want to make sure we’re putting pressure on them to treat athletes well.”
Here is more of what Napier had to say:
“I don’t feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving,” he said.
When asked if he felt like an employee or a student athlete, he said that he feels like the latter. He says that, in some ways, it’s even harder than being an employee.
“I just feel like a student-athlete, and sometimes, like I said, there’s hungry nights and I’m not able to eat and I still got to play up to my capabilities. … When you see your jersey getting sold — it may not have your last name on it — but when you see your jersey getting sold and things like that, you feel like you want something in return.”