As we reported earlier in the week, Louisiana football head coach Billy Napier announced at Wednesday’s press conference a new program that would have scholarship players join the Ragin’ Cajun Athletic Foundation at the $50 level.
Napier said it was about gratitude and developing a program with pride.
“It’s about gratitude,” Napier said. “All players, scholarship members in particular, and we’re gonna ask the walk-ons, it’s optional for them. But it will be mandatory from here on out, for our scholarship players to become a $50 level member of RCAF. That’s probably a little bit unheard of and a little bit unique, but I think this is a place where i think that would be appreciated. I think it’s part of the type of program we want to have.””
That new system gained national attention, appearing in ESPN, USA Today, and CBS Sports articles.
Much of the reaction was negative, with people questioning the fairness of the required donation.
The University released the following statement:
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Department of Athletics is thrilled that head coach Billy Napier’s football program and its student-athletes expressed their collective desire to give back and show gratitude to the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation. Members of the football program have started an initiative to demonstrate their appreciation to the RCAF, including its board of directors, staff and investors, when they are able to do so.
Additionally, student-athletes will be encouraged to join the RCAF at the introductory level during their college careers, an initiative the program and its coaching staff supports in order to give back to the foundation that has done so much to support the Louisiana Football team and the Department of Athletics.
On Friday morning during Napier’s regularly scheduled training camp press conference he cleared up the confusion.
He says that the donation was never intended to be mandatory.
“Maybe what’s out there publicly doesn’t reflect what’s going on here,” Napier said. “This is a group of young men that totally understood the message. Maybe this was put out there that this was mandatory deal, but when I spoke with the players, I told them if they can’t afford it, maybe they feel like they’re stretching a little thin, they could easily come see me personally. Or if they disagree with it, they can come see me personally, and I’ll pay theirs on my behalf.”
Several players have also taken to social media to show their support for the donation.