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UL football coach Billy Napier defends requiring players to donate to athletic foundation

, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, August 17, 2019

Ragin’ Cajuns football coach Billy Napier defended an initiative Friday to have players pay $50 a year to become members of the school’s athletic foundation, arguing he would help to pay if athletes couldn’t.

Napier, who has been criticized in national media for introducing the idea, didn’t back down from his earlier comments that his players would contribute to the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation at the introductory rate of $50 a year.

On Wednesday, Napier told reporters: “We’ve started kind of a new initiative for our players. It was really all about gratitude. All players — scholarship members in particular, and we’re going to ask the walk-ons, it’s optional for them — it will be mandatory from here on out for our scholarship players to become a $50 level member of RCAF. 

"And that’s probably a little bit unheard of and a little bit unique, but I think it’s, um, this is a place where I think that would be appreciated," he said. "And I think it’s part of the type of program that we want to have.”

Following Napier’s comments at his press conference Wednesday afternoon, UL released a clarification to media, stating "student-athletes will be encouraged to join the RCAF at the introductory level during their college careers."

Napier maintained Friday he still intends for all players to participate, even if he has to pay the cost for them.

Opinion: Opinion: UL football coach Billy Napier needs lesson in what ‘donation’ really means

"Maybe it was put out there that this was a mandatory deal. When I spoke with the players I told them, if they can’t afford it, or maybe they feel like they’re stretched a little thin, they can 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," said Napier, the Cajuns’ second-year head coach.

Napier reiterated why he believes the initiative is so important.

"This is something that I think we need," he said. "I think young people need it. I think it’s important. I feel like it’s part of my job to teach those principles and values that go along with our football program.

"Maybe I misspoke in the way I presented it all. That’s my fault," Napier said. "But I do think it’s something that we’ll continue to do. 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 it’s a privilege to be a student college athlete." 

Throughout fall camp, the Cajuns have brought in numerous leaders from outside the world of football to speak to the team. So far, the team has heard from likes of Ron Guidry, Matt Deggs, Jake Delhomme, Brandon Landry of Walk-On’s and several others.

More: Napier looking for character growth in his players as camp continues

“We want our players to be educated and understand the benefits of being a student-athlete, and that it’s not something that should be taken lightly," Napier said explaining why he thought it was important RCAF Executive Director Lee De León address the team. 

“We’re trying to create a scenario where five to 10 years from now these are guys that will give back and continue to be a part of a program and realize what this place did for them. I think we got that message across this morning and that was a good thing.”