Players across NCAA athletics have taken greater advantage of their wide-ranging platforms to let their voices be heard in matters such as mental health, name and likeness issues, and social injustices on campuses and across society.
More recently, football players have attempted to organize to air their opinions and beliefs regarding the experiment of playing football amid the dangers of a global pandemic.
Colorado’s Evan Battey is going to take on a larger role in all of those discussions.
On Monday, the National Association of Basketball Coaches announced the formation of the inaugural Player Development Coalition, and Battey is one of 11 players named to the group. The coalition is scheduled to meet quarterly and provide feedback to the NABC regarding the numerous issues facing college basketball players.
Battey said CU head coach Tad Boyle, a highly active member of the NABC throughout his decade in Boulder, approached him about joining the players coalition. Battey, who participated in three social justice marches near his Southern California hometown this summer, and who is one of the two athletes representing CU on the Pac-12 Conference’s mental health task force, was quick to accept.
“(Boyle) shared with me who is on this group, and I saw that it’s a high-caliber list of players and coaches,” Battey said. “I just wanted to be part of something special and something bigger than myself. We’ve never seen a president like this before. We’ve never seen (college) athletes really fighting for whatever cause. It’s not just dealing with social injustice. It’s just making sure our voices are heard.
“There is no specific topic we want to talk about. There’s not one way we want to go. We want to be the bridge between NCAA basketball players and the NCAA. Because basketball players are under-represented in the SAACs (Student-Athlete Advisory Committees). There’s not a lot of basketball players in the SAACs.”
Battey, a fourth-year junior, has started 43 games for the Buffs over the past two seasons, averaging 8.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. With his outgoing personality and engaging smile, Battey has evolved into a fan favorite at the CU Events Center after suffering a career-threatening stroke during his freshman redshirt season of 2017-18.
Battey will be joined on the coalition by North Carolina’s Armando Bacot; Kentucky’s Keion Brooks Jr.; Harvard’s Kale Catching; Villanova’s Collin Gillespie; Gonzaga’s Cory Kispert; Michigan State’s Joshua Langford; Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr.; TCU’s RJ Nembhard; Syracuse’s Bourama Sidibe; and High Point’s John-Michael Wright.
Battey said the coalition already held their first virtual meeting last week and stays in constant contact through a group chat. The 6-foot-8 forward said he was intrigued by the idea that the coalition isn’t setting out to be focused on one lone ideal or issue, but instead will attempt to address all of the hurdles collegiate basketball players face on and off the court.
“We’re going to try to address whatever we can, and whatever we feel needs addressing,” Battey said. “It’s really about the betterment of student-athletes, of all basketball players. The coaches in the group said it’s our group. They’re just here to organize and structure it, but in reality it’s our group.”