Add Arian Foster's voice to the growing chorus who believe that NCAA athletes -- football and basketball players, in particular -- should be compensated for their labor. Last February, the Houston Texans running back was approached by the producers for the documentary Schooled: The Price of College Sports.
In the course of a four-hour interview, Foster contrasted his dire financial straits at the University of Tennessee to the commerce surrounding the Volunteers football program. He also disclosed (see video, above) that he received money during his senior season.
"I don't know if this will throw us into an NCAA investigation -- my senior year, I was getting money on the side," said Foster. "I really didn't have any money. I had to either pay the rent or buy some food. I remember the feeling of like, 'Man, be careful.' But there's nothing wrong with it. And you're not going to convince me that there is something wrong with it.
"There were plenty of times where throughout the month I didn't have enough for food," Foster said in the 90-minute documentary. "Our stadium had like 107,000 seats; 107,000 people buying a ticket to come watch us play. It's tough just like knowing that, being aware of that. We had just won and I had a good game, 100 yards or whatever You go outside and there's hundreds of kids waiting for you. You're signing autographs, taking pictures, whatever.
"Then I walk back, and reality sets in. I go to my dorm room, open my fridge, and there's nothing in my fridge. Hold up, man. What just happened? Why don't I have anything to show for what I just did? There was a point where we had no food, no money, so I called my coach and I said, 'Coach, we don't have no food. We don't have no money. We're hungry. Either you give us some food, or I'm gonna go do something stupid.' He came down and he brought like 50 tacos for like four or five of us. Which is an NCAA violation. [laughs] But then, the next day I walk up to the facility and I see my coach pull up in a brand new Lexus. Beautiful."
"I'm a firm believer that an employee should get paid for his work," Foster added. "And, 100 percent, I see student athletes as employees. Hiding from it is just cowardly."
Produced by Bobby Valentine, narrated by Sam Rockwell, and featuring an array of athletes and journalists (including three SI staffers) "Schooled" will premiere on Epix on October 16 at 8 p.m. For more information about SCHOOLED: THE PRICE OF COLEGE SPORTS, go here. Also follow the film on Twitter.