Nigel Hayes is one of the best players on one of the best college basketball teams in the country.
But he’s also one of many who are confused by how much money the NCAA and other collegiate athletic organizations make while not compensating student-athletes beyond a scholarship.
So the Wisconsin senior took a stand Saturday, showing up to the broadcast of media juggernaut ESPN’s “College GameDay” and holding a sign that took a sharp jab at the NCAA.
The digital payment service Venmo allows users to exchange money online. The account Hayes listed, “BrokeBadger1”, isn’t registered under his name. It was, until Saturday afternoon, listed under Taurean Villolovos, a fellow basketball player from Hayes’s hometown of Dayton, Ohio, according to Yahoo Sports. It now is under “Chairface Clapperton.” As of early Saturday afternoon, the account has received more than 100 payments, some with messages of support, some a little more critical.
“Poor you. Fame, girls, free food, education, free living. Must be tough dude. Get a real cause,” one user wrote.
“You’ll be a millionaire in a few years. But that doesn’t give the ncaa any right to not pay you. Have a few beers on me,” another posted.
Hayes had promised earlier in the week that he would attend the broadcast, which took place on Wisconsin’s campus, and that he would have a “great sign.”
But Hayes’ issue with the NCAA’s compensation structure is not new. He has used his Twitter account to voice his dissatisfaction in the past.
Hayes’s protest is reminiscent of a more humorous “College GameDay” sign earlier this year, when a fan held up a sign asking for beer money. More than 2,000 people paid the man, including Venmo itself. The company has not issued a statement on Hayes’s sign.
This past spring, Hayes passed up an opportunity to enter the NBA draft to return to school, and this fall he was named the Big Ten preseason Player of the Year.
But Saturday’s protest could potentially impact his ability to play this season. The NCAA prohibits players from making money off their sport so that they remain amateurs. Depending on where the money ends up from the “BrokeBadger1” account, the organization could decide to rule him ineligible for the 2016-2017 season.