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Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger wants you to think for a moment.
“Consider a full-time unpaid internship that requires 1-4 years of participation with a minimum 40-hour work week,” Ehlinger tweeted Thursday evening. “This internship generates millions of dollars for your company, and billions of dollars for the broadcasting companies that cover your industry.”
The case to pay collegiate athletes isn’t new. Nor is the parallel that Ehlinger, a junior in UT’s McCombs School of Business, make. But Ehlinger continued in follow-up tweets:
“Within this internship, you risk your short-term and long-term health on a daily basis. You endure this internship with less than a 2% chance to advance in your industry and obtain a full-time paid job. Would you accept this position?
“Now consider the full-time unpaid internship as College Athletics and the full-time paid job as Professional Sports.”
Ehlinger added a link to legislation proposed by North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker. Walker plans next week to introduce a Student-Athlete Equity Act advocating for student-athletes to regain the right to profit off their name, image and likeness while in school. The bill would remove a tax-code restriction on student-athlete compensation, according to The News and Observer.
“Signing on with a university, if you’re a student-athlete, should not be a moratorium on your rights as an individual,” Walker said, per The News and Observer. “We’re not asking the university, we’re not asking the NCAA to pay a single dollar into this. You’ve done your part offering a full scholarship.
“Just don’t restrict the rest of it.”
The Longhorns athletics department accrued more than $219 million in revenue during the 2018 fiscal year, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY Sports’ Steve Berkowitz. 2018 marked Texas’ second consecutive year posting revenues and expenses each above $200 million. No other Division I program spent within $30 million of Texas’ $207 million expense figure.
The Longhorns athletics department has allocated roughly $50 million back to the university the last five years.
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Ehlinger started all 14 games for Texas in 2018, completing 275 passes for 3,292 yards and 25 touchdowns while throwing just five interceptions. He rushed for an additional 16 touchdowns, the most ever by a quarterback in program history.
Ehlinger capped off his tweets one final note two hours after supporting the bill.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he wrote. “I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to get an incredible degree and play the sport I love at such a prestigious University. I am extremely blessed.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.