|Big Ten advocates 4-year scholarships|
|Tuesday, June 24, 2014 8:01 PM|
By LUKE MEREDITH
The Big Ten said Tuesday that it supports guaranteed 4-year scholarships and improved medical coverage for its athletes.
The league announced in a statement signed Tuesday by its 14 presidents, including interim Ohio State president Joseph Alutto and outgoing Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman, and chancellors that it proposes working within the NCAA structure to provide greater academic security for its athletes by guaranteeing scholarships for four years, even if an athlete can no longer compete or has left for a professional career.
The statement called for guaranteeing 4-year scholarships for student-athletes and a standing scholarship if a student-athlete turns pro before graduating.
The Big Ten added the NCAA must do “whatever it takes” to compensate athletes for the full cost of their college education as defined by the federal government — rather than just tuition, fees and room and board — plus would like to review the NCAA rules on medical insurance and provide more consistent coverage.
“We have an obligation to protect their health and well-being in return for the physical demands placed upon them,” the league said.
The NCAA has been sued by a number of former athletes over compensation issues challenging the organization’s bedrock of amateurism.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney testified last week at an antitrust trial against the NCAA filed by former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon. That trial is in its 12th day in Oakland, Calif., and seeks to decide whether college athletes should be paid for the use of their likenesses.
The league said Delaney conveyed sentiments long supported by the conference and its members; the Pac-12 and SEC have recently released statements closely mirroring the Big Ten’s proposals.
The Big Ten also reiterated its opposition to a “pay-for-play” system for football and men’s basketball players, arguing that compensating those players will “skew the overall academic endeavor” for all of its students.
The league wrote that using the revenue generated from football and basketball players to compensate those athletes would force member schools to reduce funding or even eliminate some non-Olympic sports while creating “intolerable” inequities.
“The amateur model is not broken but it does require adjusting for the 21st century. Whether we pay student-athletes is not the true issue here. Rather, it is how we as universities provide a safe, rewarding and equitable environment for our student-athletes as they pursue their education,” the league added. “If universities are mandated to instead use those dollars to pay football and basketball players, it will be at the expense of all other teams. We would be forced to eliminate or reduce those programs. Paying only some athletes will create inequities that are intolerable and potentially illegal in the face of Title IX.”