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Broke College Athlete. Anything Helps.

Tony Cartagena covers the Wisconsin Badgers for ESPN Wisconsin

Madison, Wis. – Nigel Hayes doesn’t sit idly by. He has a platform, a public voice, and he doesn’t hesitate to vocalize his strong opinions.

The Wisconsin Badgers forward, who returned to school after competing at the NBA Combine last summer, has recently been proactive in starting Twitter conversations regarding racial inequalities and his dissatisfaction with the NCAA.

ESPN’s College Gameday broadcast is in Madison this weekend for the Football team’s game against Ohio State, complete with camera crews and a nationally televised program, Hayes seized another opportunity to speak his mind.

“Broke College Athlete. Anything Helps. V: BrokeBadger1” is the message written on the sign Hayes held on Bascom Hill.

The “V” representing his Venmo account – a smart phone app that allows a seamless transfer of money between friends.

Other signs in the crowd took shots at the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer. Most were unoriginal and made jokes about viral sensation “Ken Bone” or read something cliché about Wisconsin and cheese and dairy.

Hayes’ drew attention.

The initial question from Badgers’ Hoops fans regarding his sign ‘is this some sort of NCAA violation?’

Hayes is much smarter than that. Interact with him for more than 30 seconds, or be the stenographer for one of his press conferences, Hayes is as intelligent at they come.

BrokeBadger1 on Venmo isn’t Hayes’ account. That account belongs to Tauren Villolovos and only has 36 Venmo friends. Villolovos is also from Dayton, OH, like Hayes, so the assumption is that the two know one another.

However, fans searching to donate to Hayes’ cause, must search “BrokeBadger” and while typing that into the search bar on Venmo, Hayes pops up first, with the username “BrokeBadger.”

Technically he’s not promoting his own account, or soliciting money for himself. So no harm, no foul, right?

Villolovos graduated high school in 2008, and if he played college athletics anywhere, he certainly doesn’t have any years of eligibility left.

The irony here derives from the national story from a College Gameday event on September 10th when a student by the name of Sam Crowder held a sign that read “Hi Mom! Send Beer Money” and included his Venmo account, SamC2270.

In that moment, everyone thought it was a revolutionary attempt at free cash for extra-curricular activities, something most college students struggle with. Especially ones who work an extra 40 hours per week competing for their respective schools.

Venmo even followed up with a report that Crowder received payments from over 2,000 users.

Hayes’ and Villolovos’ accounts have both received payments from fans on Saturday morning.

Some of the comments include: “Stay vocal,” “Respect from a UK fan,” National Communists Against Athletes” and “Victim of the NCAA.”

Friday evening Hayes posted a fiscal report to his Twitter account and pointed out how “The Big Ten made nearly $450 million. My scholarship is about $160,000. If only there was enough money to pay us.”

Odds are that the NCAA will investigate Hayes’ donations from the weekend. Meanwhile, somewhere, Crowder is buying rounds on someone else’s dime.

Anyone else see some hypocrisy here?