SHAMEFUL: UConn star Shabazz Napier, who led the team to a decisive victory in the NCAA men’s basketball championship against the Kentucky Wildcats, Monday night, created buzz off the court when he told Fox Sports that he’s so poor he can’t afford food beyond what’s offered by the university’s cafeterias.
College athletic poverty is an open secret the NCAA and the colleges try to ignore — treating the players like modern-day slaves while they rake in millions. Still, this has always been a very polarizing subject. That’s evident from the comments left on the YouTube video. The flip side of Napier’s position is that UConn gave him an athletic scholarship, which accounts for a big chunk of money that his family didn’t have to come up with for his education.
Shabazz Napier told Fox Sports, “We as student athletes get utilized for what we do so well. We are definitely blessed to get a scholarship to our universities, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t cover everything.”
He added, “We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food and sometimes money is needed.” Napier also said, “When you see your jerseys 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.””Like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I am starving. So something can change, something should change.”
UConn spokesman Phil Cardis countered Shabazz Napier’s claims saying being given food is a part of his athletic scholarship. Cardis said, “Shabazz Napier, like all our scholarship athletes, is provided the maximum meal plan that is allowable under NCAA rules. UConn does not have a cafeteria devoted specifically to student-athletes, but they have access to the same cafeterias which are available to all our students.”
State Rep. Matthew Lesser weighed in, “He says he’s going to bed hungry at a time when millions of dollars are being made off of him. It’s obscene.” He added, “This isn’t a Connecticut problem. This is a NCAA problem, and I want to make sure we’re putting pressure on them to treat athletes well.”