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Florida, UConn coaches: Players deserve better compensation

Due to financial constraints, Will Yeguete's parents - who live outside of Paris - will not be among the anticipated 75,000 fans who'll attend Saturday's NCAA Tournament semifinal.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Due to financial constraints, Will Yeguete's parents - who live outside of Paris - will not be among the anticipated 75,000 fans who'll attend Saturday's NCAA Tournament semifinal.

ARLINGTON, Texas — When Florida plays Connecticut on Saturday at AT&T Stadium, Will Yeguete's mother and father won't be among the anticipated 75,000 fans at the NCAA semifinal.

Yeguete's parents, who live outside Paris, had to choose whether to attend their son's senior day at Florida or his graduation in May. They chose graduation. The NCAA Tournament was out of the question because of financial reasons.

It's another example of a system many coaches believe needs changing. Gators coach Billy Donovan added his voice to the conversation about player compensation Thursday. When asked about the possible unionization of college players, Donovan, a former college athlete and now a coach at a major Division I school, believes the NCAA and member schools need to do more for athletes.

"I think the players do deserve more things," Donovan said. "There are certain things that I think are outdated and don't make sense in a lot of ways. What those things are … should they be paid? I don't know what it is. But there needs to be more done for the student-athletes, in my opinion.

"They make an incredible investment. They obviously are generating a lot of dollars on college campuses. … I do know that there needs to be a better way to take care of them in a way that maybe would not jeopardize (their eligibility). I think there's ways that we can do that. The idea that a kid can't get a free hamburger somewhere, it doesn't make any sense to me. What's the big deal? How is that hurting anybody?

"I get, 'Well, then it leads to this and this and this.' I get some of those thoughts. But there's some common-sense things I think that we can do to ensure that from a normal student activity life, they can have money in their pocket and be able to do things."

UConn coach Kevin Ollie, also a former college player, agreed.

"The game has changed," Ollie said. "This venue has changed. I remember when I was playing in college, when we went to the tournament, we weren't playing in venues like this. Everything has changed and evolved, and in some way, somehow, the student-athlete, that dynamic has to evolve and change.

"I don't know which way it's going to lead, but some way, somehow, we're going to all have to make a sacrifice and get in a room and see how we can make a change for the student-athlete. … Not flying the parents up to see a game? … Hopefully we can keep the integrity of the NCAA and the student-athletes, but everything in life is always evolving."

HONORS: Creighton's Doug McDermott was named the Associated Press national player of the year, and Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was named coach of the year Thursday. "There are so many great college basketball players this year, and to be selected for this award is a huge honor," McDermott said.

HUGE INTEREST: More than 30,000 credentials have been issued and more than 10,000 hotel rooms have been reserved in the Dallas area in conjunction with the Final Four, the NCAA said.

Florida, UConn coaches: Players deserve better compensation

04/03/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 3, 2014 9:42pm]
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