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Ventura Discusses Student Athletes

March 27, 1999

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (AP) _ Some academically-challenged athletes shouldn’t have to attend classes in order to play college sports, Gov. Jesse Ventura said.

Ventura’s comments were aired Friday from an interview with a young reporter for KARE-TV’s ``Whatever,″ a show aimed at teen-agers. The interview was conducted after allegations broke about academic misconduct in the University of Minnesota men’s basketball program.

``My view is, to eliminate this cheating, or the possibility of it, why not let kids go to college and just be athletes while they’re there?″ Ventura said. ``No classes. Let them simply play.

``Then when they’re done, if the don’t make it in the NFL, if they don’t make it in the NBA, if they don’t make it in pro baseball, whatever it might be, then give them their scholarship.″

In fact, the former professional wrestler said, colleges should just accept that some students were never meant to study.

``How many great athletes simply aren’t smart? But why shouldn’t they have the chance to compete?″ he said.

The governor said his own talents aren’t being sufficiently rewarded.

``I get paid $120,000 a year,″ he said. ``What do you think I’d be paid if I was with a $12 billion corporation in the private sector? I’d be making $120,000 a month, and that wouldn’t even count stock options.″

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