In a statement issued Tuesday, the Big Ten presidents and chancellors outlined a series of reforms designed to improve the experience of athletes. The statement also continued the conference's stance that said athletes shouldn't be paid.
The statement, which can be read in full here, comes four days after commissioner Jim Delany testified in the Ed O'Bannon vs. NCAA trial in California. By all accounts, Delany's testimony ended up hurting the NCAA. Here's the central crux of Tuesday's release:
The reality of intercollegiate athletics is that only a miniscule number of students go on to professional sports careers. In the sports that generate the greatest revenue and attention, football sees 13 percent of Big Ten players drafted by the NFL and basketball sees 6 percent from our conference drafted for NBA play.
For those student-athletes who are drafted, their professional careers average fewer than five years. They still have several decades and, potentially, several careers ahead of them in which to succeed. And their college experience - their overall academic experience - should be what carries them forward.
This is why we propose working within the NCAA to provide greater academic security and success for our student-athletes:
- 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.
Those ideas, particularly the four bulleted points, aren't new. The release seems more like a statement of consensus among the Big Ten's member institutions, as identified by the signatures of each of the 14 university presidents and chancellors included at the bottom.
Also unchanged is the Big Ten's stance against paying athletes. Tuesday's release said the following:
Across the Big Ten, and in every major athletic conference, football and men's basketball are the principal revenue sports. That money supports the men and women competing in all other sports. No one is demanding paychecks for our gymnasts or wrestlers. And yet it is those athletes - in swimming, track, lacrosse, and other so-called Olympic sports - who will suffer the most under a pay-to-play system.
The revenue creates more opportunities for more students to attend college and all that provides, and to improve the athletic experiences through improved facilities, coaching, training and support.
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.
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 next step, one would imagine, is a response from the College Athletes Players Association, the group founded by former UCLA football player Ramogi Huma that has taken up the primary defense in the case for paying athletes. Whenever that comes, expect to hear much more back-and-forth between the two sides.
-- Maryland and Rutgers officially become Big Ten members on July 1. ESPN.com takes a look at recent conference moves and how the first seasons played out for a variety of teams across the country.
-- ESPN.com's Big Ten blog also has some thoughts on how to evaluate non-conference schedules. Wisconsin, naturally, gets a mention.
-- SB Nation has put together projected conference standings based upon betting lines from The Golden Nugget. The Badgers' outlook sure looks rosy.
-- EDSBS casts the movie roles of a college football lifetime. Warning: some truly terrifying photoshops are included.
-- World Cup! Here's everything that happened on Tuesday in SB Nation's awesome visual layout. Would you guys be receptive to an open thread for Thursday's US-Germany game? We haven't put those together yet, but absolutely could if you guys would like.