The level of fame afforded to celebrities and college athletes can, at times, seem quite comparable. At schools like the University of Florida or Ohio State where sports reign supreme and tailgates are the hottest events of the semester, the young men and women whose athletic abilities have earned them a spot on the team are campus stars. This setup, of course, also comes with complications.

The lack of payment to young athletes who bring in buckets of money for their respective schools is a consistent point of contention: 65 schools of the 2,078 with athletic programs brought in $7.6 billion in college sports-related revenue in 2018, according to a March 2019 report from U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, called “Madness, Inc.” Meanwhile, college quarterbacks are often followed by unwanted student paparazzi. For some college athletes, walking across the quad to a biology lecture can feel akin to walking a red carpet.

There are also times when the celebrity factor does not sink in until later in life, when it’s unrelated to touchdowns, goals, or shocking upset victories. There's no shortage of famous faces who once held athletic passions over the goals they eventually pursued; actor Patrick Dempsey, for instance, was previously a world-renowned juggler.

30 famous people you might not know were college athletes

Stacker dug deep to find 30 celebrities who were previously college athletes. There are musicians, politicians, actors, writers, and reality TV stars. For some, an athletic career was a real, promising possibility that ultimately faded away due to injury or an alternate calling. Others scrapped their way onto a team and simply played for fun and the love of the sport. Read on to find out if your favorite actor, singer, or politician once sported a university jersey.

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