With a vote on autonomy coming up, conferences that could benefit from the extra benefits have been making it a point to plan ahead and prepare for wat will be done with those extra powers once they become available. The Big Ten, a conference with some of the deepest pockets in the country, is ready to take full advantage and is getting a jump-start on the situation by endorsing the use of four-year scholarships as well as other benefits for student-athletes.
The Big Ten’s presidents and chancellors (including the leaders at Rutgers and Maryland) released a statement Tuesday addressing the Ed O’Bannon vs. NCAA antitrust trial, which saw commissioner Jim Delany take the witness stand on Friday. In the statement the leaders of the Big Ten’s membership outlined ways the conference intends to work with the NCAA to provide greater benefits to student-athletes. The highlight was the support for four-year scholarships, which the Pac-12’s USC announced would be made available starting July 1.
This, from the Big Ten statement;
- 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.
Few conferences have the resources the Big Ten has, even among the power conferences. The Big Ten has been splitting some of the top revenues among conferences since adding the Big Ten Network, and with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers the network revenue could be projected to increase in the coming years as well.
The Big Ten is not the first conference to come out and support full cost scholarships, but the Big Ten is one of the few that should be able to make it a reality for all sooner rather than later.