Shabazz Napier has become one of the poster boys of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Besides being a fantastic asset on both ends of the floor for the No. 7 seed Huskies, Napier has been an inspiring leader as a 6-foot-1 senior guard.
But now Napier has contributed an interesting tidbit off-the-floor as Shabazz has been quoted in a story that was showcased in a CNN.com article on Monday. The original interview was conducted last week and posted on Fox Sports.
“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,” Napier said to reporters.
When the senior was asked if he felt like an employee, the Huskies point guard said, “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.”
With the recent ruling for the Northwestern football players union in the NLIB, the attention has turned to the players participating in the NCAA Tournament.
Connecticut lawmakers have noticed Napier’s remarks, according to CNN. Since Northwestern is a private school, they can go through other means that state-funded schools like UConn cannot do at the moment.
State Rep. Matthew Lesser and other state lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow athletes at the University of Connecticut to unionize, Lesser said. Unlike at Northwestern, a private institution governed by the National Labor Relations Board, Connecticut law governs whether employees at a public institution can unionize.
“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.”
Napier still has a season to focus on, but this quote certainly doesn’t make anybody feel better about the fair treatment of NCAA student-athletes in light of all of the recent rulings. Will athletes like Napier be able to help usher in changes to the NCAA system?