Perspective On Coach Billy Napier Encouraging Players To Donate $50 To RCAF
Louisiana Ragin' Cajun head coach Billy Napier made national headlines in the last 24 hours, and the optics haven't been universally positive.
Various speakers have talked to the Ragin' Cajun football team throughout training camp, offering advice on life during and after college football.
From former NFL stars like Brian Mitchell and Jake Delhomme, to Yankees great Ron Guidry, to Walk-Ons founder/owner Brandon Landry, a variety of individuals have shared their success stories with the team during camp.
Wednesday, RCAF (Ragin' Cajun Athletic Foundation) executive director and Deputy AD Lee De Leon gave a presentation to the team.
"It was a really good morning," said Napier after De Leon's presentation. "The big initiative we wanted to get done with our players was to educate them about the RCAF and what they do for the student-athletics at UL."
Napier noted the new initiative included his scholarship players donating to the RCAF at the minimum annual level of $50 a year.
While Napier never used the word "required", he did use the word "mandatory", though he misspoke.
This led to the story becoming viral today, with a strong backlash on social media from around the country.
"The intention here is to create a culture within our building that we're grateful for what we have, and the opportunity that's in front of us," said Napier today. "Maybe it was put out there that this was a mandatory deal, and I told the players that if they can't afford it...or disagree with it, I would pay theirs (donations) on my behalf."
"I know it came across nationally that maybe it was a mandatory (or) required experience. Maybe I misspoke in the way I presented it, and that's my fault."
Louisiana Ragin' Cajun assistant AD for communications Patrick Crawford gave us, and several other media outlets, clarity on the policy with the following statement earlier today.
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. 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.
It is not mandatory. Only encouraged.
Zach Barnett of footballscoop.com reported UL players were discussing ways to give back to the RCAF following De Leon's presentation when Napier expressed the idea of players setting aside $50 a year from their stipend to donate at the minimum level.
For perspective, UL pays the cost of attendance for all scholarship athletes.
Athletes who live on campus receive around $900 a month, over an 8 month period. Athletes who live off-campus receive around $1900 a month, over an 8 month period.
For student-athletes who came to school from low-income families and qualified for pell grants, their stipend is higher.
If a player donates at the minimum level, it would cost each player 17 cents a day.
The "pay for play" and "name, image, likeness" debate in college sports has been around for years.
It's understandable that a headline of a coach "requiring" players to donate to an athletic fund would receive backlash, but the intention of the encouraged donations was aiming in a different direction.
"Our intentions here are to create a group of football players that have gratitude, don't feel entitled, and what to express their 'thank you' in appreciation to the people that helped provide the opportunity that they have," noted Napier. "Hopefully the opinion of the outside world will see what our intentions were."