Junior Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes has become a college basketball favorite for his endearing fascination with stenography and cute hot mic quotes. But on his first media day this year, he took a different approach: forcefully criticizing the NCAA for refusing to pay athletes for their labor.
At the Big Ten’s preseason media day—where he was chosen as the Big Ten preseason player of the year—Hayes reminded everybody present that the NCAA’s concept of a student-athlete is a sham:
We’re not student-athletes. We’re here to play sports. Some of us are missing class to be here right now. In some respect, they’re making money off us right now. [Wisconsin] just changed to Under Armour, who just gave us a couple hundred million dollars. I’m sure that’s not enough to pay us for our playing, because that’s not enough money.
Hayes continued speaking out on the issue Friday on Twitter, including responding to someone who felt Hayes should be “lucky” to play for free for an institution that profits from his work.
He also laid out the math of how the booming revenue of the Big Ten conference compares to the value of his scholarship:
And Saturday morning, Hayes arrived at College GameDay with a sign to help make his point:
(The Venmo account @brokebadger1 has been in use since March 2015 and is registered under the name Taurean Villolovos who, like Hayes, is also from Dayton, Ohio. There are a dozen payments made to the account today expressing support for Hayes; there is also an account @brokebadger registered this month to the name Nigel Hayes with two dozen payments in the last two hours.)
As one of the better and more well-known players in college basketball, and a probable NBA draft pick, Nigel Hayes is the highest-profile advocate for wholesale changes to NCAA amateurism rules since Kain Colter. At some point the NCAA might have to listen.