Wisconsin basketball star Nigel Hayes was invited to attend ESPN’s College GameDay, and he used the opportunity to protest the NCAA’s policy of not paying college athletes. But his stunt may have serious consequences.
Hayes is a senior for the Wisconsin Badgers and was named the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. Last year he made the All-Big Ten’s first team and averaged 15.7 points per game. He’s considered a strong NBA prospect.
Hayes takes considerable issue with the fact that the NCAA does not pay the student-athletes upon which its built a multimillion-dollar empire. He made his intentions for the GameDay protest known on Twitter.
Then he showed up with a headline-grabbing sign that reads “Broke College Athlete Anything Helps.” It includes a screenname for Venmo, the digital payment system.
It’s a bold statement that will undoubtedly catch the NCAA’s attention. Even before his protest, Hayes’ tweets sparked serious discussion on Twitter, and he engaged with many of the people who took issue with his stance.
Hayes likely didn’t intend to actually get paid from his protest—he intentionally put the wrong username on his sign—but it’s not hard to find him on the platform, and people appear to be sending him money and comments of encouragement.
Hayes appears to be putting himself at considerable risk. According to the NCAA, “The receipt of a benefit not authorized by NCAA regulations by a student-athlete or his parents, relatives or friends will immediately place the student-athlete’s eligibility for intercollegiate athletics competition in jeopardy.”
This isn’t the first time someone has used College GameDay to score some extra cash. Earlier this season, internet hero Sam Crowder’s sign for beer money went viral and resulted in more than 400 people sending money.
The NCAA, however, could care less about some random student’s beer money. Hayes’ protest, on the other hand, will likely be investigated.