There is an awful lot of talk about Coach Billy Napier’s request of football players at The University of Louisiana to contribute to the Ragin Cajuns Athletic Foundation. Much of it is negative, especially when it comes to the national media. There is a lot of misinformation being spread and I felt like it was time to dig a little. You will likely be surprised when you have a full understanding of Coach Napier’s groundbreaking idea.
So you know, it’s “Fast” writing this article. I spent 9 years as the public address announcer for UL football and basketball games. I attended U(S)L and have been a fan since the 1980s. My intent with this piece is to give you details that you may not know. Much of what I am going to explain is information that is public but not very well known or understood. Hopefully this will clear up much of the confusion as well as the blatantly one-sided national media stories that are floating around.
Things you probably don’t know:
Several years ago, the NCAA changed some of it’s rules about how athletes are “compensated”. I will refer to this as the Cost of Attendance or COA. The COA is based on federal estimates of what it actually costs to attend a university. Each school has a different COA.
For decades NCAA athletes, scholarship and non-scholarship, were pretty much on their own outside of tuition, room and board. This is no longer the case. Universities are now allowed to, in essence, pay athletes a fixed amount to help to defray expenses associated with attending school. This is completely legal in the eyes of the NCAA. At UL, several variables are taken into consideration to calculate how players are compensated. I will use football for explaining how it works, but this applies to all scholarship sports. Every university has the opportunity to do this.
Since 2017, scholarship players at UL that live off campus are given close to $2,000 per month during the Spring and Fall semesters. They also receive three meals per day, every day of each semester. This is for every scholarship player living off campus. For scholarship players living in student housing, the amount is just under $1,000 per month. This amount is on top of the room, utilities, cable and internet provided as a resident of Legacy Park. They too receive 3 meals per day. Non-scholarship athletes (walk-ons) do not receive a stipend but are provided two meals every day. Also, student athletes that receive Pell Grants may qualify for additional COA funds based on their individual circumstances.
As I said, I am using football to illustrate this new NCAA program, but it applies to all scholarship athletes. You are probably now doing a lot of math in your head, trying to figure out how many athletes are on scholarship and where in the heck all of this money is coming from. The bottom line: most of the COA funds are provided by (drumroll)… The RCAF. Donations. In essence, fans and alumni that contribute to the RCAF are helping to provide the Cost of Attendance for scholarship athletes.
Now that you know the numbers, you can understand why Coach Napier felt that $50 per year, per player was reasonable. From everything that I can gather, the players had a voice in this and agreed to the plan. They see that the RCAF is the reason they are able to afford the cost of attending the university. $1 per week, per year seems fair, don’t you think?
Coach Napier has been an assistant coach at several major universities. He’s no fool. He has seen how things are done from the inside at some of the most successful college athletics programs. In my view, he is asking his player to buy in and “pay it forward”. It sounds like the players not only agreed, but are taking pride in their investment in the RCAF.
I hope this info helps. Again, much has changed over the past few years in the world of college athletics. Those on the inside know, but most of us out here do not have a full understanding.