Bevin says NCAA could stop ‘shady agents’ by paying players

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. AP

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin referred to top-tier Division-I college athletic programs as the minor leagues of professional sports Wednesday in an interview with TMZ Sports. As such, their players should be paid, said the Republican governor.

“It’s a multi-billion industry in America, college athletics, and yet we’re pretending these kids are just student athletes? Come on,” Bevin said.

“I firmly believe that for top-tier D-1 programs, these kids should get paid,” he said. “They’re professional athletes, for us to pretend otherwise is ridiculous.”

He said a process should be created to pay student-athletes who are capable of playing professional sports.

“If you want to cut down on the amount of scandal that involves these kids, their parents, these shady agents and these squirrelly deals … set up a program where that kid can be paid to be the professional athlete he is, even at a young age,” he implored.

The comments from Bevin follow recent news of a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball, which has upended the University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program and named one current and two former University of Kentucky players.

Bevin, who said he was a former All-Conference athlete while in college at Washington and Lee, said the point of college is not to have a minor league sports program.

According to Brian Laubscher, the sports information director at Washington and Lee, Bevin was a 3-year letter-winner on the track and field team at the school and was a member of the 4x400 meter relay team his senior season that won the conference championship.

“It’s fantastic to have it, and I celebrate it, and in no way shape or form am I saying that we shouldn’t have great athletic programs,” he said. “It’s part of a complete college experience.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced charges stemming from an FBI investigation into top NCAA basketball programs that also involved a corrupt scheme with a major sportswear company.

Mike Stunson: 859-231-1324, @mike_stunson