On Friday, President Barack Obama gave an interview to the Huffington Post where he was asked about the current amateurism debate in college athletics, and it’s pretty clear that he lands on the side of the student-athletes.
He mentions the idea of four-year scholarships instead of one-year renewable scholarships, and he also blasted the arcane amateurism rules that are currently in place, limiting football and men’s basketball players to scholarship money while the games that they play in generate billions and billions of dollars of revenue.
“[T]he students need to be taken better care of because they are generating a lot of revenue here,” Obama said, adding that schools have “more responsibilities than right now they’re showing”.
Obama said that it is “not fair” that an athlete can be punished for getting “a tattoo or free use of a car” while ADs and coaches banking seven figures annually, although he did not go as far as to say that the athletes should be directly paid by the universities.
“In terms of compensation, I think the challenge would just then start being, do we really want to just create a situation where there are bidding wars?” Obama said. “How much does a Anthony Davis get paid as opposed to somebody else? And that I do think would ruin the sense of college sports.”
Obama has closer ties to the game than you may realize. Not only is he a basketball fanatic, but his brother-in-law is Craig Robinson, the former Brown and Oregon State head coach, and his niece plays for the undefeated Princeton women’s team.