Nigel Hayes

Former Wisconsin men’s basketball player Nigel Hayes said he and his teammates discussed boycotting a game early in the 2016-’17 season to protest the NCAA’s limits on what athletes can receive while playing college sports.

According to USA Today Sports, Hayes told the story of the boycott discussion while appearing on a panel at an Aspen Institute event in Washington, D.C., titled “Future of College Sports: Reimagining Athlete Pay.”  The idea behind the program was for participants to discuss what the implications would be if the NCAA’s schools either chose or were forced to allow athletes to receive compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses under a system modeled on how Olympic athletes are allowed to be paid.

During Hayes’ senior season, he reportedly proposed to his teammates, by way of group chat, that they refuse to play in a game against Syracuse that was part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and being televised on ESPN.

Hayes said he proceeded with the caveat that if even one member of the team was against the idea, it would be abandoned.

Hayes told USA Today Sports after the panel discussion, “I new 90% of the guys were on board from the get-go, before I asked the question.”  “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 predicted that if the NCAA’s current limits are not changed, a player-boycott eventually will occur.

Hayes is among the named plaintiffs in one of two ongoing lawsuits challenging the NCAA’s current system, under which athletes basically can receive tuition, fees, room, board, books and money to cover certain incidental costs of attending college.


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