A former UC Berkeley basketball player on Friday, September 7, accused the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) of “exploiting” her by so severely limiting the scholarship money she received playing sports she often went hungry, in a federal bench trial in Oakland challenging the association’s caps on compensation to student athletes.
According to Courthouse news, Justine Hartman said she sometimes skipped classes because she was too hungry and tired to concentrate following daily six-hour basketball practices. Her athletic scholarship set by the NCAA didn’t cover her expenses at the University of California, Berkeley, she said, forcing her to pay rent with money earmarked for food.
“We don’t have the means to excel at the highest level academically,” Hartman said. “We go without a lot. There are many with similar experiences, where they’re hungry and too tired” to focus on academics.
Three classes of 53,000 current and former Division I football and men’s and women’s basketball players are trying to convince US District Judge Claudia Wilken to eliminate the NCAA’s restrictions on student athlete compensation.
But the NCAA says there is no guarantee the conferences would enact them. More likely, it says, wealthier schools would begin offering potential team members “millions of dollars” to play for them in the absence of pay limits, essentially turning those players into professional athletes.