Texas President Says He 'Cannot Comprehend' Paying College Athletes

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2017

Tom Herman, center, poses with athletic director Mike Perrin, left, and school president Gregory Fenves, right, during a news conference where he was introduced at Texas' new head NCAA college football coach, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Austin. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

University of Texas president Gregory L. Fenves said during an interview concerning a class-action NCAA antitrust lawsuit he "cannot comprehend" the school potentially paying student-athletes.

On Wednesday, Brian Davis of the American-Statesman passed along comments Fenves made to defense expert Kenneth Elzinga in February, which have now become public.

The president said he "cannot comprehend how athletics could be a part of university life" and argued "students go to games to watch their fellow students compete, and that they would not be as interested in attending if the players were professional." 

Paying college athletes a salary in addition to their scholarship has been a hot-button topic for a long time, but the idea has always been met with firm resistance by the NCAA and its member schools.

Although the argument against more compensation is usually based on financial reasoning, Fenves suggested the impact it could have on the college community is an equally large problem. That's likely because the Longhorns generate plenty of money.

Jon Solomon of CBS Sports reported Texas led all college athletic departments by posting $179.6 million in revenue during the 2014-15 school year. In all, 28 schools recorded revenues of over $100 million during that time period.

More recently, the Longhorns unveiled new football lockers loaded with modern amenities, including a 43-inch, high-definition television attached to each one. The estimated cost for each player stall was an eye-popping $10,500.

Fenves doesn't think those numbers should result in student-athletes getting paid, though. The American-Statesman noted he fears that decision would destroy the unique nature of collegiate sports and cause alumni to view their alma mater as "just another professional sports team."

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