Shabazz Napier, point guard for The University of Connecticut's men's basketball team, recently told reporters he understands why athletes at Northwestern need a union, as he sometimes has to go to bed "starving" because he cannot afford food.
"We as student athletes get utilized for what we do so well. We are definitely blessed to get a scholarship to our universities, but at the end of the day, that doesn't cover everything. We do have hungry nights that we don't have enough money to get food and sometimes money is needed," the senior told reporters. "I think, you know, Northwestern has an idea, and we'll see where it goes."
The National Labor Relations Board ruled last month that the football players at Northwestern, a private college, have the right to form the first labor union in college sports.
The NLRB ruling does not empower athletes at public universities like UConn to unionize, as public schools rely on state labor laws for such issues.
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State Rep. Patricia Dillon, D-New Haven, said she intends to propose enabling legislation if state law is a barrier to athletes forming unions at public schools in Connecticut.
"We shouldn't be preventing them. They should have that voice," said Dillon, a member of the Connecticut legislature's Higher Education Committee. "If state law is the barrier, then we should remove it. It should be up to the players."
With just over four weeks left in this year's legislative session, Dillon said she hasn't yet decided if her bill will be proposed this year or next.
Napier, who heads into the NCAA Championship match-up against the University of Kentucky tonight, told reporters that it's hard for him to see his jersey getting sold while he struggles to eat.
"To some credit, you feel like you want something in return… Like I said, there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I am starving. So something can change, something should change. But if it doesn't, at the end of the day, we've been doing this for so long, so ...," he said.
A UConn spokesman said in an emailed statement that Napier is provided food.
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