Like most of life’s unintended fiascoes, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
Sounds like maybe a full-blown committee was hard at work.
Anyway, Louisiana-Lafayette football is all over the news and is fairly well dominating social media for something other than its school name identity crisis.
Money, of course. What else?
But it involves football players paying the school.
In other words: Man bites dog. Film at 11.
Of course, in its original form it was intended to be a feel-good gesture, a publicity stunt, perhaps, but still a wonderful life’s lesson.
Second-year head coach Billy Napier, full of smug pride, sure seemed to announce that his Ragin’ Cajun players would all be required to donate $50 to the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation.
No self-entitled millennials here.
The Cajuns, it turns out, were expected to be 110 percent committed to the ol’ team, plus a $50 tip to the organization.
So let’s see if we’ve got this straight: the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation, which exists to lend financial support to the football team, would be (at least partially) funded by the … football players.
At first, Napier even differentiated between scholarship and non-scholarship players to note that the “donation” would be “optional” for the walk-ons.
Napier was proud as punch to point out that it was a way for players to show their “gratitude” for all the foundation does to enrich their student-athlete experience.
Well, maybe it was a foul-up in communications, maybe a harmless misstatement, but you know how that turned out.
Not exactly. The social media time bomb squinted its eyes to see if it had really read that right, then went 5-4-3-2-1 … and pronounced it blackmail.
Perhaps the critics missed the part about all of the “donations” being tax-deductible for the players.
But, caught in the crossfire, the school quickly walked back on Napier’s statement. In fact, if the Cajuns’ secondary can back-peddle as fast as the school’s damage-control administration did on this matter, the ULL defense will be just fine in the Sun Belt Conference race.
The school immediately clarified that what Napier meant to say is that he would only “encourage” the players to ante up to the RCAF (maybe the walk-ons will only get “mild suggestions” to follow suit in this modified scenario).
Presumably it will be as “optional” as those “optional” summer workouts which, as all players know — wink-wink — the coaches don’t really care if they attend or not.
Napier wasn’t really backing down after the firestorm hit. He said he thinks it’s a good idea to get players used to contributing to their alma mater, even before it’s their alma mater.
“Maybe I misspoke in the way I presented it and that’s my fault,” Napier told The Advocate. “I do think that’s something we’ll continue to do, and I think it’s going to be good for our players to be educated about that process and have perspective and not feel entitled and know that it is a privilege to be a college student-athlete.”
Good luck selling that in this day and age.
The Cajuns seem to have gotten this whole pay-for-play thing all backwards.
Coach, this isn’t kids’ travel baseball.
The normal model is that the players get the impermissible benefits, not pay for them.
But in this innovative model, perhaps after games the players will bring some spare cash, walk through the alumni gauntlet and do a reverse number on the old $100 handshake.
What a concept. Talk about keeping the alumni happy.
Napier said some players have even said they will donate more than the “suggested” $50.
Actually, a $50 donation doesn’t get you much bang for your buck in the Raging Cajun Athletic Foundation. Maybe a “window decal” and a few “exclusive Ragin’ Cajun gifts,” according to its website.
Even $100 only gets you a discount in the Ragin Cajuns team store.
You’re looking at the $300 level before anything like the coveted “RCAF license plate” kicks in.
To move into free “coaching sideline apparel,” we’re talking more like the $50,000 donorship.
But can you really put a price on “personalized parking?”
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com