HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– On the heels of that big win for UConn Monday night,one state lawmaker is accusing the NCAA of “milking these kids.” In addition to the buzz about the big win, there is a lot of chatter at the state capitol about student athletes and the right to join a union.
UConn basketball star Shabazz Napier has struck a raw nerve about college sports.
In commenting on the National Labor Relations Board ruling that private university athletes can join a union because they’re really employees, Napier told an interviewer that he sometimes goes to bed hungry because his basketball scholarship doesn’t really cover all his expenses.
“This is the most valuable player in college basketball right now and I think it’s obscene that the NCAA’s policies are making him go hungry every night,” said Rep. Matt Lesser,(D) Middletown.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie will be getting a big bonus for winning the championship from cable and broadcast television rights the university reaps big bucks. Not to mention a cut from all of the sales of all those UConn shirts, hats and other things with the UConn logo.
But the team members get nothing but the adoration and the pot-of-gold dream at the end of the rainbow of a possible NBA contract.
“I’m very proud of our team but there is an underlying problem with the NCAA, they’re milking these kids,” said Rep. Pat Dillon, (D) New Haven.
That’s why some state lawmakers are exploring ways to allow Connecticut college athletes to join a union and it wouldn’t just be for pay.
“Maybe this is the time that we should take a look at that kind of legislation,” said Rep. Arthur O’Neill, (R) Southbury.
“The NCAA, I think has a lot of this stuff backwards. They’ve created this situation where people are saying ‘hey, we have no relief.’ So, perhaps the best thing is to unionize,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy, (D) Connecticut.
The NLRB ruling only applies to private schools because UConn is a public university it would take an act of the legislature.
The head of the Connecticut AFL-CIO tells News 8 that in Tuesday’s NCAA environment the athletes are in an employer/employee relationship and should have the right to organize.