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March 20, 2015

Obama says he's not in favor of paying college athletes

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — President Barack Obama is coming out against compensation for college athletes.

He says it would lead to bidding wars and "ruin the sense of college sports."

Obama says what does frustrate him, though, is seeing college coaches and the NCAA making huge amounts of money while an athlete gets banished after getting a tattoo or free use of a car.

He says that's unfair.

Obama commented in an interview with The Huffington Post after he was asked whether college athletes should be compensated because they are money-makers for the NCAA, TV stations and advertisers.

The interview was released Saturday, hours after Obama cheered as his niece's Princeton team stayed undefeated by topping Wisconsin-Green Bay in a first round NCAA Tournament game played in Maryland.

To watch the full interview, click here.

Here's a transcript of some of his interview with HuffPo, specifically the part in which he discusses compensation for athletes:

OBAMA: Here's what I've said. That the students need to be taken better care of because they are generating a lot of revenue here. An immediate step that the NCAA could take -- that some conferences have already taken -- is if you offer a scholarship to a kid coming into school, that scholarship sticks, no matter what.
It doesn't matter whether they get cut, it doesn't matter whether they get hurt. You are now entering into a bargain and responsible for them.
Health care. You've got to make sure that if they get injured while they're playing that they're covered.
I do think that recognizing that the majority of these student athletes are not going to end up playing professional ball -- this isn’t just a farm system for the NBA or the NFL -- means that the universities have more responsibilities than right now they’re showing --
HUFFPOST: But what about compensation?
OBAMA: -- and what does frustrate me is where I see coaches getting paid millions of dollars, athletic directors getting paid millions of dollars, the NCAA making huge amounts of money, and then some kid gets a tattoo or gets a free use of a car and suddenly they’re banished. That’s not fair.
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? How much does a Anthony Davis get paid --
HUFFPOST: A lot. (Laughter)
OBAMA: -- as opposed to somebody else? And that I do think would ruin the sense of college sports.

Click here for the full transcript.