Last night, University of Connecticut held off Kentucky to win NCAA with a score of 60-54. That win became the school’s fourth NCAA men’s basketball national championship. But there’s one player making headlines today, and it’s not because of the win.
Shabazz Napier is added to the NCAA’s critics and supports of organized unions for college athletes when he recently told reporters he sometimes goes to bed “starving” because he can’t afford food, despite that UConn’s student-athlete guidelines include provisions for meal plans.
“We as student athletes get utilized for what we do so well. We are definitely best to get a scholarship to our universities, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t cover everything. We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food and sometimes money is needed,” Napier told the Mirror. “I think, you know, Northwestern has an idea, and we’ll see where it goes.”
“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.”
And millions is an understatement! How about over $700 million a year in revenue from team sports?
A basketball player is going to bed hungry. According to UConn’s student-athlete handbook students can eat in any residence hall between 7 a.m. and 7:15 p.m.
“If you live off campus and your grant-in-aid includes meals, you may use your stipend to purchase an on-campus meal plan. … This will entitle you to eat in any of the facilities,” the handbook states(PDF).
As someone pointed out in another comment section, a student meal plan only allows 3 meals. The food also cannot be removed from the cafeteria. With the practice and exercise athletes do on a daily basis, why would anyone think 3 meals a day is enough?
Let’s also take a look at what the coaches and the university gains from their players running a ball up and down a court.