University of Louisiana head coach Billy Napier announced a new team rule this week during his mid-week August camp press conference that "encourages" all scholarship players to donate to the school’s athletic fund–which costs $50 to be a minimal level member of the Ragin' Cajun Athletic Foundation. The policy will be optional for walk-on members of the team.
The rule will go into effect starting with the beginning of this school year.
“It’s all about gratitude,” Napier said in his announcement.
The language of the policy, which first “required” the donation by scholarship players, was replaced with “encouraged" by early Friday afternoon.
The Athletic Foundation's executive director Lee De Leon addressed the team Wednesday morning prior to Napier's announcement. He explained the inner workings of the organization's fundraising process and how it impacts the student-athlete experience. Napier said athletic department not only wants to influence the players' perspective now, but they also hope to establish a long-term bond between the players and the university.
“That’s probably a little bit unheard of and a little bit unique, but I think this is a place where that would be appreciated,” Napier said. “I think it’s part of the type of program that we want to have. We want our players to be educated and understand the benefits that come with being a student-athlete and that is not something that should be taken lightly — the effort and time and investment that the people that support athletes at UL have put in into this program.”
He continued: “We’re trying to create a scenario where five or 10 years from now these are guys who will give back and continue to be a part of the program and realize what this place did for them,” Napier said. “ I think we got that message across this morning and certainly that was a good thing.”
Napier, 40, is in his second season as the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. He replaced replace Mark Hudspeth, who was fired after seven seasons at Louisiana, prior to last seeason after spending one year at Arizona State as the Sun Devils' offensive coordinator. Napier has also spent time at Clemson, South Carolina State, Alabama and Colorado State as an assistant.
During his first season at the helm, Napier led the Ragin' Cajuns to a 7–7 record and a berth in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.