University of Texas president Greg Fenves made his stance known as it pertains to college athletics remaining under the amateur umbrella.
Kenneth G. Elzinga, an economics professor at the University of Virginia, conducted interviews with five university presidents, including Fenves, regarding ongoing antitrust lawsuits filed against the NCAA in support of college athletes being paid more than just a scholarship.
A court filling of notes from Fenves' Feb. 3, 2017 interview surfaced online earlier this week, thanks to USA Today and DeadSpin. The interview notes quote Fenves saying he "cannot comprehend how athletics would be apart of University life" if student athletes were paid professionals.
UT's president mentioned various reasons in support of his stance, with one of the main takeaways relating to overall fan support. Fenves indirectly mentioned freshman center Jarrett Allen in his example of how paying student athletes could lead to a lack of fan support if the athletes don't consistently perform up to standard.
The following excerpt from the interview notes paraphrases Fenves' example of Allen.
(Fenves) was recently at a UT basketball game, and watched a very talented freshman center, who is only 18 years old, play. He (the freshman center) has a great personality, and he’s a very good basketball player, but he also makes mistakes 'like a freshman.' The students know him, and the fans know him. He came to UT to get an education, and they understand that.
When he plays and makes mistakes (e.g., turnovers) people say 'it’s his first season playing. He’s developing. He’s not a professional.' If it was solely up to a labor market, he might not be playing, but if he was and was being paid a professional’s salary and fans watched him play and make 'stupid turnovers' (Fenves) cannot imagine that students and fans would continue to come to see him play.
Fenves seemed concerned with a lack of interest from the current student body if athletes were no longer considered amateur. He mentioned how students go to games to watch their fellow students compete. He believes non-student athletes would not be as interested in supporting their peers if they are paid professionals - a concern he also believes to be true when it comes to the support of Texas Longhorns football alumni.
Things can always change, but if this interview shows anything, it's that Fenves may not be quick to jump onboard with those who believe student athletes deserve to be paid more than simply a scholarship.
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