Shabazz Napier attended the University of Connecticut for four years on a basketball scholarship, which meant his tuition fees and living costs such as the accommodation and food, were all covered.
And yet, there were nights in which he went to bed “starving” because he couldn’t afford to get anything to eat, while his school made millions through him.
“Sometimes, there’s hungry nights where I’m not able to eat,” said Napier who led UConn to their second NCAA title in four years and a $1.6million jackpot:
“But, I still gotta play up to my capabilities.”
That statement brought new life to the debate on whether student athletes should receive some sort of monetary compensation because, as it stands, the NCAA as a whole makes nearly $1 billion a year. However, the athletes see none of that money due to the “Amateurism” mantra held by the organization – seriously, FIFA could really learn a thing or two from these guys.
While his comments haven’t really done much to get players paid, they did however, force the governing body to make some changes.
The NCAA has now approved a new ruling to grant unlimited meals and snacks to Division I athletes. At least now the players can fill their bellies while being exploited. Small victories count for something, right?
And just to be clear, the NCAA did feed the athletes, albeit in a somewhat restrictive manner. As Alicia Jessop explains:
“NCAA Division I programs were allowed to provide scholarship athletes with one training table meal per day. The cost for the training table meal was then deducted from the amount of money those athletes received to purchase food plans or other food with.
“Walk-on and non-scholarship athletes could also participate in training table meals, but they had to pay to eat them.”
Napier on the other hand doesn’t have to worry about starving anymore - at least not for a little while.
During the NBA Draft last night he was selected with the 24th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets but found his way to the Miami Heat, after Pat Riley gave up their 26th pick (which turned out to be P.J. Hairston), a 55th overall pick (Semaj Christon) and a future second round pick.
The Heat team president was eager to bring the point guard on board after he dazzled during his final year of college ball, racking up 18 points a game on 40 percent shooting from three-point range and 87 percent from the free-throw line. That’s in addition to dishing out 4.9 assists per game, as well as grabbing an amazing 5.9 rebounds (he is only 6’1” tall – if that) and 1.8 steals per game.
And to top it all off, he led all of college basketball with 9.1 win-shares. Maybe that’s partly why LeBron James was so full of praise.
Now, Shabazz Napier’s biggest worry isn’t going to be hunger. Instead, it’s going to be figuring out a way to crack Coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation and displace Norris Cole and/or Mario Chalmers – if either is still on the roster, that is.
After all, the introduction of the 22-year-old does make them somewhat expendable.
Oh, and he’ll have to figure out what he will do with the $2.5million he will earn over the next couple of seasons.
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