Administrators at the University of Iowa have stated that appearances by members of the football and wrestling teams at a Donald Trump rally on Tuesday do not constitute NCAA violations, reports Jeff Charis-Carlson of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
During the rally, which has held at the gymnasium on the Iowa campus, Trump called 12 members of the football team and seven members of the wrestling team on stage.
“Where's my football team? Get over here, football team,” Trump said when he called the football team to the stage. “The football team, come on! University of Iowa. ... Come on up here. Come on up, right? Get up! What a team, what a team. And they were so nice: They endorsed Trump. They like Trump, and I like them. I love you guys. Look at the size, how big and strong. That's what we like. Thank you, fellas.”
Before the speech began, tight end Peter Pekar presented Trump with an Iowa football jersey, which university officials contend was not school licensed apparel.
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta defended the rights of athletes to be politically active, but said they do not represent their teams or university.
“University of Iowa student-athletes are encouraged to participate in the political process as individuals,” Barta said. “However, like any endorsement by a student or faculty member, their participation should not be considered representative of the entire team or university. In recent months, candidates from both parties representing a spectrum of ideals have visited Iowa City. We will continue to support this approach without influencing particular political choice or agendas.”
The NCAA does not allow student-athletes to be used in political ads or associations that endorse a specific candidate or party.
School officials claim that no coaches or university employees were involved in the athletes’ decision to support Trump.