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A lawsuit against the NCAA and major conferences now includes University of Wisconsin athlete Nigel Hayes as a plaintiff, reported Thursday night.

Hayes, a sophomore forward on the Badgers men’s basketball team, is one of three named plaintiffs in a suit led by sports labor attorney Jeffrey Kessler seeking an injunction against NCAA rules that limit athletes’ compensation.

A request early Friday morning to a UW spokesman seeking comment from Hayes and UW coach Bo Ryan wasn’t immediately returned.

When reached through a direct message on Twitter, Hayes’ mother, Talaya Davis, said she was advised not to comment on the lawsuit or her son’s involvement in it.

The UW Athletic Department issued a statement Friday afternoon saying it supports Hayes but not professionalism for college athletes.

UW's statement said: "Nigel Hayes is a valued member of the UW men’s basketball team. The department fully supports Nigel as a student, student-athlete and team member. In a free society, people can reasonably disagree about any issue, express their views and seek to vindicate them through the legal process.

"The department supports the many ongoing efforts to reform the regulation of intercollegiate athletics through the appropriate NCAA processes, including those reforms which seek to improve the welfare and educational experience of all student-athletes. The department is committed to the collegiate experience with education as its centerpiece. It does not believe that the professionalization of intercollegiate athletics is the proper path to reform, or likely to benefit all student-athletes.''

Kessler originally filed an antitrust suit in a New Jersey federal court in March that named the NCAA and the five major conferences, including the Big Ten, as defendants. The goal of the suit is for college athletes to receive pay beyond their athletic scholarships.

“The main objective is to strike down permanently the restrictions that prevent athletes in Division I basketball and the top tier of college football from being fairly compensated for the billions of dollars in revenues that they help generate,” Kessler told ESPN at the time. “We're looking to change the system, that’s the main goal.”

According to the report, Hayes and the other players are suing the NCAA and conferences to eliminate rules that “prohibit, cap or otherwise limit remuneration and benefits”

Hayes was named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year last season as a freshman, when he appeared in all 38 games and averaged 7.7 points and 2.8 rebounds. He’s expected to move into the starting lineup this season for UW, which will begin the season No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll after returning most of its key players from a team that went 30-8 and advanced to the Final Four last season.

The other two named plaintiffs on the lawsuit are football players: Martin Jenkins, a defensive back at Clemson; and Anfornee Stewart, a linebacker at Middle Tennessee State.


Jim Polzin covers Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.