Wisconsin Basketball Team Considered Boycott

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Will the NCAA eventually see a Division I men’s basketball team boycott a game over player compensation? Nigel Hayes thinks so. 

The former Wisconsin star and current member of the Sacramento Kings said Tuesday that he and his teammates considered boycotting a game during the 2016-17 season to protest the NCAA’s limits on player compensation.

Speaking on a panel at an Aspen Institute event in Washington D.C, titled “Future of College Sports: Reimagining Athlete Pay,” Hayes said he proposed boycotting a game against Syracuse that was part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The team didn’t ultimately proceed with the plan, as a few members weren’t on board with the idea.

“I knew 90 percent of the guys were on board from the get-go, before I asked the question,” Hayes told USA Today after the panel discussion. “But I let them know that if one of you guys says no, we won’t do it because, obviously, we’re a team and we’re going to stick together.”

Hayes went on to say that he expects a player boycott will eventually occur. “With all the money that’s being made that the players are not receiving, there’s going to be a point where the players don’t play,” he said. “It’s going to take the right player or the right team in the right big-game setting … but if you want to get something done, boycott it. That’s the best way to get anything done. … I think it’s something that if we did go through with it, we’d probably be having a very different conversation right now.”

Hayes said Wisconsin not playing in the game against Syracuse would have “blown the roof of this NCAA thing.”

The panel was to generate discussion about the issue of collegiate player compensation. Hayes said most players don’t realize they’ve been exploited until after their college careers are over. “In hindsight, I think those guys that said no would change their mind now. That’s usually what happens,” he said. “The guys who don’t go on to the NBA, once they leave college, they look back and say, ‘Wow, I was exploited — and now I have nothing to show for it.’ … So, I think we missed our opportunity, but hopefully this word gets out and it will inspire a group of kids that's in college now or will be in college.”

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