The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A college football coach wants his unpaid players to donate to the school’s booster club

(Tommy Gilligan/AP)

During a news conference on Wednesday, University of Louisiana football coach Billy Napier told reporters that he would like his players to give back to the school in the form of donations to the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation, the athletic department’s fundraising arm.

“It’s all about gratitude,” Napier said of the donations, which at a minimum are $50. “That’s probably a little bit unheard of and a little bit unique, but I think this is a place where that would be appreciated. I think it’s part of the type of program that we want to have. We want our players to be educated and understand the benefits that come with being a student-athlete and that is not something that should be taken lightly — the effort and time and investment that the people that support athletes at UL have put in into this program.”

A report in the Acadiana Advocate originally described the donations as mandatory, causing a stir among college football observers considering that college football players are not paid and cannot make money off their likenesses. That report was changed on Friday to say the donations are merely encouraged.

“The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Department of Athletics is thrilled that head coach Billy Napier’s football program and its student-athletes expressed their collective desire to give back and show gratitude to the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation,” Louisiana athletic department spokesman Patrick Crawford told The Post in an email. “Members of the football program have started an initiative to demonstrate their appreciation to the RCAF, including its board of directors, staff and investors, when they are able to do so.

“Additionally, student-athletes will be encouraged to join the RCAF at the introductory level during their college careers, an initiative the program and its coaching staff supports in order to give back to the foundation that has done so much to support the Louisiana Football team and the Department of Athletics.”

Via sources, Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett reports that the idea came about after the Ragin’ Cajuns’ players brainstormed ways to help out the RCAF following a visit from executive director Lee De Leon, with Napier suggesting that they donate money from their cost-of-attendance stipends that are allowed under an NCAA rule adopted in 2015 (that amount at Louisiana was $4,306 in the 2015-16 academic year).

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