Statement on State of NCAA Athletics from Big 10 Presidents

Submitted by Zone Left on June 24th, 2014 at 5:40 PM


Among other things, a list of proposals the Big 10 wants to see adopted:

• We must guarantee the four-year scholarships that we offer. If a student-athlete is no longer able to compete, for whatever reason, there should be zero impact on our commitment as universities to deliver an undergraduate education. We want our students to graduate.

• If a student-athlete leaves for a pro career before graduating, the guarantee of a scholarship remains firm. Whether a professional career materializes, and regardless of its length, we will honor a student's scholarship when his or her playing days are over. Again, we want students to graduate.

• We must review our rules and provide improved, consistent medical insurance for student-athletes. We have an obligation to protect their health and well-being in return for the physical demands placed upon them.

• We must do whatever it takes to ensure that student-athlete scholarships cover the full cost of a college education, as defined by the federal government. That definition is intended to cover what it actually costs to attend college.

This is why Delaney gave the testimony he gave during the O'Bannon trial. The Big 10 and other conferences are trying to stay ahead of this to stop the other, potentially more damaging, lawsuits in their tracks.



June 24th, 2014 at 7:59 PM ^

I don't agree with is the notion that if someone leaves school to pursue a pro career, the school should continue to honor a scholarship indefinitely.  Why?  The decision to leave is a voluntary choice and the kid should live with the decision.  The proposed rule marginally incents someone to leave school early, which is the exact opposite of the stated notion that kids are students first, athletes second. 


June 24th, 2014 at 11:09 PM ^

This won't get passed. Way too late and Delany already mentioned on the stand that his opinion on improving scholarships and redcing practice time was in the low minority.. This doesn't really help the NCAA's case anyway since the trial is more about Name, Image, and Likeness rights in television and NCAA endorsements/contracts and not the value of a D1 scholarship.

What interests me is: would this not constitute as a competitive advantage for the (allegedly) few schools that the NCAA says can actually afford to do this? Assuming that this isn't just a Big Ten thing, wouldn't this throw a wrench in the NCAA's "We can't pay players because most of us can't afford to" defense, especially when they just had a a guy from the Conference USA on the stand yesterday who said this:

So how can the NCAA make a defense that one of the reasons they can't pay players is that they just can't afford to, yet vote to approve a proposal like this that will raise the average cost per player for every single sport immensly for every D1 university?

Like I said, this won't get passed.


June 24th, 2014 at 5:53 PM ^

I thought from the start that Delaney's testimony was intended and not simply him going "off script". Sometimes if you know, or have substantial fear, that you'll lose, you try to put some ideas in the judge's head of how you could lose that are still palatable. If they're going to lose, they want a relatively soft landing. This outcome would be better than a ruling destroying the sham of "amateurism".


June 24th, 2014 at 5:59 PM ^

(specifically the bit about practice and the ability to do overseas study, etc.) coupled with these four bullets would be a great deal closer to putting student back in the equation. Add in the ability to work a summer job and sell your autograph (and pay taxes on both as income), and I think they're getting close.


June 24th, 2014 at 8:20 PM ^

Ifg you add in the ability for boosters to buy players (i.e. sham "summer jobs" and sham "autograph sales") then you reall y should just go the rest of the way and make these guys employees.  I'd rather have the teams play the players than some boosters (some of whom might well be sham boosters as well, and really be paying for players to throw games).

Allowing boosters to pay players would be more corrupt than the current situation.  All of the other measures mentioned are given equally to all players, and so the opposite of the booster-buying-star-players model you propose.


June 24th, 2014 at 6:13 PM ^

Fundamental change tends to have a very large and unforseeable ripple effect. 

For the record, IMHO, if a student athlete decides to turn pro before they have played at least four years, I think they should NOT expect to return to their school on scholarship (unless they have eligibility left).

Now that would be rather cool. A former player who played (say) three years as an offensive or defensive lineman in the NFL returns to  Michigan to complete his degree. Yeah put that 26/27 year old lineman with professional experience on the line. Awesome!


June 24th, 2014 at 7:04 PM ^

It really shouldn't be about the eligibility though, to your point about players leaving before theirs runs out. I believe USC actively encourages players who go pro before they complete their degrees to return at their leisure and complete them, even offering them the chance to do so tuition-free. The idea being, of course, that not only did you follow a dream, but you can build on it with a USC degree. I would imagine that this would be an attractive offer at most schools even to players whose prospects of going pro in football or basketball (where the majority of this would happen) were excellent. I could see it being a recruiting tool in a way too. 


June 24th, 2014 at 6:56 PM ^

I wish they had the foresight, and the spine, to say there's got to be a change in compensation for AD higher ups, including coaches, instead of continuing to make veiled threats to take the money away from non-revenue athletes. If presidents don't do the right thing and reset the coaching and athletics administration markets in a post-cartel world, they'll have done a grave disservice to their institutions.

snarling wolverine

June 24th, 2014 at 7:05 PM ^

What sort of change would you call for?  A salary cap for ADs and coaches?  Not sure how realistic that would be.  The average coach technically holds down multiple jobs - coaching, running a summer camp, appearing on the TV show, etc - and his base coaching salary often is just a small fraction of his total compensation.




June 24th, 2014 at 8:26 PM ^

I think you misunderstand what a cartel is.  College sports would become a cartel under your proposal, limited competition by cornering the market on college coaching jobs and trying to use this monopoly to stifle salary demands.  That's illegal, generally speaking.


July 19th, 2014 at 10:39 PM ^

Responding to market pressures is not illegal. There is about to be a big market pressure. They just need to get out of the way by acknowledging that contracts signed before the change are not indicative of what contracts signed after it should be like.


June 24th, 2014 at 6:42 PM ^

It's not clear from the link, but I wonder if this proposal is for football and basketball players only.  I would like to see at least the health care benefits extended to all scholarship athletes. I'm not sure it's feasible to extend the full cost across the board, since many athletes in other sports ofen get just partial scholarships.

I will say this, though, if they do cover the full cost of everything, this will be more than any other merit based scholarship I'm aware of.  So-called full ride academic scholarships (in my experience) do not cover everything, and they also usually have academic performance strings attached. 


June 24th, 2014 at 6:46 PM ^

Obvious damage control is obvious.

Bbbbbut juuuuuudge!  We've already made all these improvements so the athletes can really be students.  Please let us keep our bags of money.


June 24th, 2014 at 10:31 PM ^

problem with the second rule.Hypothetically a player with Jon Horford talent could declare for the NBA after his freshmen year. Having zero chance of getting drafted he would effectively gotten 4 years of free education without living up to his end of the scholarship.


June 24th, 2014 at 11:15 PM ^

The Big 10 and other conferences are trying to stay ahead of this to stop the other, potentially more damaging, lawsuits in their tracks.

I would argue that the two currnetly going on right now, O'Bannon and Jenkins, would be damaging enough.