Biden Sits for Roundtable on Athlete Rights With Former College Football Players

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President Joe Biden met Wednesday at the White House with former college football player to discuss the working rights of college athletes. 

According to SI.com, which cited an administration official, the roundtable discussion was convened because "college football players—and all student-athletes—deserve consistent safety standards, to have a voice, and to benefit from the revenue they produce[.]”

Rod Gilmore, Desmond Howard and Ryan Clark, all now commentators on ESPN, as well as Kevin Neghandi, were in attendance. The meeting was supposed to be a quick drop-in with the players but Biden say for a discussion that lasted almost an hour and gave the visitors a tour. 

Biden did not discuss specific positions on issue like NIL or whether athletes should be classified as employees, but he did express his support for the players and their rights. 

“For him to give us a tour and tell us about the different history that's a part of his office and why it is, I think, is one of those times where you actually understand and feel like that they are serving the people,” Clark told SI. “And so I thought it was a really good thing. I thought that his attention to what we were saying, and the passion that, whether it was Rod, Desmond, Kevin showed for the young student-athletes was amazing. I think it was palpable and tangible in that room, and hopefully something comes of it.”

Most of the comments were made behind closed doors, but the press was allowed in for a short time. 

“As the landscape of college football changes and the revenue grows exponentially, we just wanted to make sure we had a conversation, that you all have been leading on thankfully, making sure players are protected not just in the short term but in the long term. But as money grows, making sure there’s not a significant power imbalance,” said Steve Benjamin, director of the Office of Public Engagement Director, in his introductory remarks. 

Most of the focus, both in the roundtable meeting itself and with Biden, centered around health and safety for athletes and making sure the environment around athletics supports them both during and after their playing careers. 

“I think for us, we see this as an organizing jumping off point to what we’ve got coming in 2024, so I feel like it’s kind of setting the table for that,” CFBPA executive director Jason Stahl told SI after the meetings concluded. “Are we gonna have tangible reform ideas come out of the White House? Probably not. But I think we greatly appreciate the White House staff that saw us as doing this organizing work and really want to elevate the work we’re doing and we’re super appreciative because that’s gonna happen as a result.”

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