A Senator Tells This Student Not To Be Nervous. This Student Smiles It Off And Blows Everyone Away.

Rajiv Narayan Curated by

Student athletes can get a lot of attention, but it's worth asking what they actually need.

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Chairman Rockefeller: Mr Rolle. And thank you for being here, and don't be nervous, OK? I mean it. It's a wonderful opportunity to say what's in your heart and on your mind.

Myron Rolle: Yes, sir. First, I want to thank you and the committee for inviting me here today to share some of my experience and knowledge on this very important subject, very complicated subject as well. I've had many conversations with fellow student athletes on this issue about the current role of student athletes today and this giant scheme of collegiate athletics; and we often walk away from those conversations with more questions than answers, so I'm hoping today is a first step towards answering some of those questions, and providing some context and some clarity to this discussion, so that we can see our student athletes receive maximum edification in all aspects of their person, be it a student, an athlete, a leader, and a man and a woman. That's very important to me.

I wanted to start my remarks by beginning at the genesis of my story. My parents are from the islands of the Bahamas. My brothers are as well. I was born here in the States and I was raised in New Jersey. I went to high school in Princeton, New Jersey, and after my school days in Princeton, I would go over to the university and I saw this big poster, a statue, and trophies of this guy who became my hero. His name was Bill Bradley. He was just a rockstar in my opinion. The epitome of what a student athlete ought to be, college basketball American, best player in college and at a school like Princeton, NBA Hall of Famer, U.S. Senator and a Rhodes scholar. That was the first time I heard those two words Rhodes scholar used in the same sentence. And once I finished high school in Princeton, I had 83 scholarships offers to go anywhere I wanted to play football and I was rated the number one high school prospect in the country by ESPN.

I decided to go to Florida State and when I got to Tallahassee on campus, first thing I did was go to the Office of National Fellowships and tell them that I want to be a Rhodes scholar like my hero Bill Bradley. If he did it, I wanted to try to do it as well. And so, three years later I was fortunate to earn that scholarship. Then, I went to see my teachers and academic advisors at F.S.U. and tell them that I want you guys to help increase my intellectual capital so one day I can be an outstanding pediatric neurosurgeon like another one of my influences, Dr Ben Carson. Now, I'm a second year medical student, hopefully able to do that in the future. And lastly, I went to my strength coaches and my athletic trainers, and my football coaches, Bobby Bowden included, and told them that I want them to equip my body and get me ready for a career as a national football player. And fortunately, I was able to be drafted by the Titans and play for the Steelers as well.

Now, it may sound like my story is pristine and ideal, and maybe used as the poster child for what you want a collegiate student athlete to have experienced. But, I will say that my story is quite rare and unique, and some people even call it an anomaly, because outside of Senator Cory Booker, the last major division football player to earn a Rhodes scholarship was a guy named Pat Haden, and that was in the 1970s, and played at USC and played for the Los Angeles Rams as well as a quarterbarck.

There are very few student athletes who I've come in contact with that have had the same infrastructure as I've had, the family support, had the foresights, not come from a broken school system in high school, not come from a broken family, were able to engage in their college experience and maximize their time. Many more of my teammates and friends, and fellow student athletes struggled in the college environment. They struggled mightily, struggled economically because now with the scholarship type that they received, they became, believe it or not, the main breadwinners for their families, and they would have to send some of their scholarship money home to take care of their immediate and extended family.

They also struggled academically as well. A lot of them would go through this academic machinery in their colleges and be spit out at the end of that machine left torn, worn, and asking questions, and with really no direction, no guidance on where they should go, no purpose, no idea of their trajectory, and sometimes left with the degree in hand that didn't behoove any of their future interests. So, I hope today we can shed light on this aspect, as you said Chairman Rockefeller, that we're really pouring energy, and life, and money, and exposure, and highlighting on TV the life of the athlete but I believe we're still falling a bit short of edifying, and improving, augmenting the aspect of the students, the person, the man, the woman, and even the philanthropist and the leader.

And, I believe if we can do that, we can not only see our students and athletes at these major schools go on to be productive athletes in the professional ranks, but more importantly be productive leaders and citizens that go on to be leaders of industry, leaders of men, leaders of women, and just really have an indelible impact as they go on to their future. So, thank you for having me here, and I'm looking forward to join this discussion.

Chairman Rockefeller: Thank you very very much and now Devon Ramsay.

There may be small errors in this transcript.
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Myron Rolle addressed the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on college athletes and academics. This clip was posted by C-SPAN. You can also watch the entire hearing.

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