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Should college athletes be paid beyond receiving a scholarship?
Some former UConn basketball players think so.
Ray Allen, Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price addressed the hotly debated topic while attending Jim Calhoun's tribute event Sunday at Gampel Pavilion. They're all in favor of providing financial support.
"It's important that we look at where college was and where it is today," Allen said. "It's tougher for student-athletes to live and exist on campus. We've seen so many examples of guys and jersey sales and things that are happening across campuses."
Allen believes there should be some type of momentary pool set up that student-athletes can draw from to ease their financial burdens.
The demands of college basketball prevent them for picking up jobs during the school year. It is difficult for some cash-strapped players to afford to fly home over the holidays, or even buy basic necessities.
"Us players bring a lot of money to the schools and we put in a lot of work," Adrien said. "It is hard to go out there and get a job to make sure extra cash, even if it is to buy some more clothes or get some more food.
"It's a little difficult to do that since we're a full-time student and at the same time we're a full-time athlete. It would definitely be good to see guys get something."
Allen added that nobody is asking for a financial windfall, just a helping hand. He suggests a stipend.
"I'm for finding a way to provide a stipend for them so they can exist because a scholarship alone is not enough," Allen said. "We've all dealt with it and we've been through it. … We have to find a way to make sure student-athletes exist and live, especially in the world that they live in now.
"If you're a big time student-athlete on campus, certain things you can't do because the student body won't let you. Social networking has created that prison, so to speak. It requires different parameters for these athletes."
During his UConn playing days, it bothered Allen that the university sold his jersey – and others as well – without any compensation.
Back then, Allen spoke openly about his concerns. He feels the same way today.
"Then people assumed or thought it was about me and I wanted a piece of the pie," Allen said. "It was never about what I wanted. Every collegiate athlete in school that struggles to exists, you can't get a job and you're beholding to individual workouts and your class schedule.
"Then you walk into the co-op and your jersey, or whatever, is up there for 80 or 90 bucks and you don't have 15 or 20 in your pocket. There is something wrong with that."
College athletes have to be careful about breaking NCAA rules. Even accepting a free meal can get them in hot water.
Price said money problems basically led to his off the court troubles during his UConn career. He was involved in the theft of laptop computers on campus and suspended for the 2005-06 season.
He believes there should be compensation in some way, shape or form.
"You're basically professional athletes playing in front of huge crowds on TV and not getting paid for anything and other people are making money of that," Price said. "So I just think something needs to be done.
"I got in trouble to start my career basically due to not having any money. I know it can definitely help a lot of kids in that situation who are unfortunate or less fortunate. … It would go a long way."
Allen, Price and Adrien all went on to play in the NBA after leaving UConn. Of course, Allen is a member of the NBA champion Miami Heat. Adrien recently signed a contract with the Charlotte Bobcats while Price is a free agent and still looking to hook up with a team.
Today’s American Athletic Conference Championship semifinal doubleheader is underway here at the XL Center in Hartford. A crowd in the 12,000-13,000 range is expected for the UConn-Tulsa game. Tip-off time is 5 p.m.