AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas athletic director Steve Patterson has his eye on China and the Middle East as vast new markets to expand the Longhorns' burnt orange brand around the globe.
The leader of the nation's wealthiest athletic program also insisted Tuesday that university athletes are students, not employees. If they want to be treated as workers, they should turn pro, Patterson said.
"Professional athletics is something completely different," Patterson said, addressing last week's ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that Northwestern's football team can be considered employees and have the right to form what would be the nation's first union for college athletes.
"If you're a football player coming out of high school that decides you want to go to the pros, go take up your issue with (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell, the owners and the union," Patterson said. "That's your place to go, if you want to go play professional football, if you want to go be an employee.
"If you want to go play professional basketball, go the D-league, knock yourself out, then in the draft to the NBA," Patterson said. "That's your place if you want to be an employee, if you want to be a professional. This is not your place," Patterson said, tapping his finger on his desk.
"This is a free country. You can make that choice all day long. Knock yourself out," he said. "This is student athletics."