Shabazz Napier's star performance in last night's NCAA championship game is drawing attention to comments made last week that further stoke the debate over whether to pay student athletes. Napier was last week asked about the National Labor Relation Board's ruling that Northwestern football players were employees who could unionize. Napier said he didn't think he was an employee, and didn't want "hundreds of thousands of dollars," but did think he should be paid, NBC reports:
- "Sometimes, there's hungry nights where I'm not able to eat," he said. "When you see your jersey getting sold, to some credit, you feel like you want something in return … There are hungry nights when I got to bed and I'm starving."
His comments are drawing attention now because CNN featured them in an article yesterday, reporting that they'd inspired Connecticut lawmakers to try to allow UConn to 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," one rep said. "This isn't a Connecticut problem. This is an NCAA problem." Napier also made some waves with his postgame comments last night, in which he loudly criticized the NCAA's ban on UConn for poor academic performance. "Ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at the hungry Huskies," he told the crowd, according to USA Today, before he got cut off. "This is what happens when you ban us." (Read more UConn Huskies stories.)