How can the people who run our nation’s universities sound this clueless?
His football program is installing new football lockers that cost an eye-popping $10,500 each, but Texas President Gregory L. Fenves “cannot comprehend” paying UT athletes.
That’s the main takeaway from an interview Fenves gave for a class-action antitrust lawsuit filed against the NCAA. The lawsuit seeks to challenge what schools can give to athletes playing football and men’s and women’s basketball.
The notes from the interview, first discovered by USA Today, were taken during an interview on Feb. 22 and attached to a legal filing. Fenves was one of five current or former university administrators interviewed by Kenneth Elzinga, an expert for the defense.
Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart and former Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke were also interviewed. A UT spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday.
Fenves told Elzinga that he “cannot comprehend how athletics could be a part of university life” if athletes were paid like professionals. The UT president related an anecdote of going to a men’s basketball game this season and watching freshman Jarrett Allen, although his name is mentioned specifically.
Allen, described in general terms, was a “a very good basketball player, but he also makes mistakes ‘like a freshman,’” according to Elzinga’s notes. If Allen was paid like a professional, fans may watch him make “stupid turnovers” and may choose not to come watch him play.
So, over the top lockers, lavish training facilities and all the other bells and whistles players receive that regular students never get a whiff of don’t cause any dismay in the general student population, but Johnny Football getting a check for his work or his likeness/endorsement — something any of them can do now, but the players can’t — is somehow a bridge too far?
Tough call between stupidity and outright denial right there. Should make for a fun deposition, though.