Big Ten Conference

Report: Big Ten contemplates rule to make freshman ineligible again

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The Big Ten Conference may intentionally be going out of its way to lose recruiting battles.

In 1972, the NCAA abolished a rule that made all incoming freshmen ineligible to play for the football or basketball programs. The rule was revoked to help the Marshall Thundering Herd after a tragic plane crash.

But the Big Ten now appears in favor of returning to the old ways.

The Diamondback — the University of Maryland’s student newspaper — reported that the Big Ten Conference is trying to get its institutions to support the potential rule change and start a “national discussion.”

“What I like about the concept of the proposal is it puts right up front the basic issue: Are we basically a quasi-professional activity or primarily an educational activity?” University of Maryland president Wallace Loh told The Diamondback. “And if you support it, you are basically saying very clearly the No. 1 priority is the education of the students.”

The Big Ten Conference wouldn’t confirm the proposal, though:

The B1G is a step behind, because the national discussion already began last week.

One league couldn’t adopt this rule without it negatively affecting its teams. Plenty of top recruits expect to play during their first year on campus. This is particularly important with basketball programs due to one-and-done athletes. As one conference pushes to rule freshmen ineligible, it won’t sit well with some recruits.

“One-and-done is a small percentage, it’s not even one percent of our student-athletes when you take all the schools,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg. “That’s way off base to me. Do we have challenges with young people who aren’t really prepared the way they should be to attack college education? No doubt about it.

“I have not been a proponent of freshman ineligibility but I keep my mind open that maybe it’s something we have to consider.”

Recruiting is exactly what at least one league coach is hiding behind as a reason to move forward with the proposal.

“That would be one of the healthiest things we could do for college sports right now,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz told ESPN. “Recruiting’s kind of a runaway train and what a lot of people don’t consider is there’s a lot of serious pressure that’s put on some players’ shoulders that I’m not sure is healthy for them big picture-wise. … It would allow the guy to transition a little bit with a lot less fanfare and get their feet on the ground and get a good foundation established.”

In the end, it’s another step for leagues to maintain control over incoming athletes.

Instead of trying to provide those athletes with the best possible situation based on the individual, one of the country’s most powerful conferences wants to create a blanket rule that applies to all.

At least the NFL hasn’t changed its three-year rule before a player is eligible for the draft. Who knows? That could change too if this becomes more than a “national discussion.”

B1G Commish: Michigan’s mistake with Shane Morris is ‘a teachable moment’

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The Michigan Wolverines won’t face sanctions from the Big Ten Conference for their ill-advised decision to place a concussed Shane Morris back in the game Sept. 27 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. But the league is taking proper steps to avoid similar situations in the future.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany spoke with ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg Wednesday and discussed some of the ideas the league may implement to improve on-field concussion assessments.

As part of the NFL’s concussion protocols, a player in question must pass four components — the baseline cognitive test, a rehab program, the independent neurologist, and the team physician — before they’re allowed to return to the game. If these four components are not passed, the player is not allowed back into the game.

Morris clearly wouldn’t have passed all the components, and Michigan eventually admitted a lack of communication between the training staff and team coaches. Delany remained diplomatic when questioned directly about the situation.

By not punishing Michigan, the conference won’t be forced to react to every individual situation in the future.

The “teachable moment” Delany spoke of will come once the University of Michigan makes its final decisions on the futures of athletic director Dave Brandon and head football coach Brady Hoke. Their potential dismissals after this situation will speak volumes.

B1G commish expects governance model to pass

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College football continues to evolve and one of the game’s primary power players foresees a major change in the game coming in the next few days.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany fully expects his conference, along with the rest of the “Big 5” conferences, to be granted more autonomy once the NCAA Division I board of directors votes Aug. 7 on a new governance model.

“I do think it’ll pass and capture the autonomy issues that are important to us in assisting student-athletes in the 21st century in ways that make sense,” Delany said during his speech at Big Ten media days, according to The Columbus Dispatch’s Todd Jones. “I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t pass.”

With more autonomy, the schools within the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC can address a glaring issues in college football…extra stipends to fully cover the cost of tuition.

The vote will be made with the lingering threat of the power conferences renouncing their NCAA affiliations if it doesn’t pass.

“If we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interests of our student‑athletes,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said during SEC media days.

Delany wasn’t as demonstrative as Slive when asked what the conferences will do if the model isn’t passed, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of a potential mutiny.

“If it doesn’t (pass), I don’t really know what we’d do,” Delany said. “I expect there would probably be conversations within each conference, we’d huddle up, and then see where we’re at.”

When Delany and Slive speak, people listen.

“Mike Slive and Jim Delany don’t make their comments without the support of the individual institutions, which means the presidents have signed off on it,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told The Columbus Dispatch on July 18. “So each conference in the top five has gone through a process to get agreement from the presidents that if these things aren’t in place, at the vote, then we have to look at a different structure.”

Report: Big Ten plans to play more games in NYC

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The Big Ten Conference is adamant about expanding its presence on the East Coast, particularly in New York City.

Adding Rutgers to the league, reaching an agreement with the Pinstripe Bowl and opening an office in Manhattan wasn’t quite enough to sate the conference’s desires.

The Big Ten Conference is considering hosting regular season contests in New York City at Yankee Stadium and Washington D.C., according to cbssports.com’s Jeremy Fowler.

The conference would use the neutral sites to help cultivate rivalries between Penn State and its newest members, Rutgers and Maryland.

“Like with Yankee Stadium — would there be a case where Rutgers or Penn State or Maryland, would they want to move a game to an iconic stadium like that?” Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman posed to Fowler. “You could bring in, for Rutgers, probably another 10 to 15,000 people there. Is that a game that makes sense to move there? Probably.”

It can also serve as an opportunity for the new schools to benefit from the more established programs in the conference. Teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin have national followings and their fans travel well. Bigger venues to host these programs will be beneficial for both the programs playing in the games and the conference.

High-profile venues can also be used to entice marquee opponents as additions to non-conference schedules. Rutgers, for example, will travel to Seattle this fall to open the season against the Pac-12’s Washington State Cougars at CenturyLink Field. Rutgers can use the lure of Yankee Stadium to bring in other opponents from the Pac-12, Big 12 or SEC.

By potentially using stadiums at key demographic locations, the Big Ten Conference will be taking full advantage of its expanded footprint and the markets it cherished when the decision was made to expand to 14 teams.

Ohio State AD: ‘Rutgers will bring a lot to the table’

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As the wheels of conference realignment spun, a league’s “footprint” became more important than athletic success. A school’s market was more valuable than what it could bring to the field of play.

The Big Ten Conference’s inclusion of Rutgers may have been the most obvious case of a “Big 5” conference looking more at a school’s location than how it will improve the league’s level of play.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, however, believes Rutgers is a major asset to the Big Ten.

“There’s some long-term historic rivalries, like ours with that team up north, and then there’s those that emerge,” Smith told NJ.com’s Dan Duggan. “I think the Rutgers-Penn State one will probably elevate itself over time and it will be one of those contests that everybody will look forward to all the time. I think Rutgers will bring a lot to the table.”

Smith cited the school’s previous success on the gridiron under former head coach Greg Schiano and the money the school pumped into the program during that era. The Scarlet Knights were 56-33 with six bowl appearances during Schiano’s seven seasons.

Under the supervision of Kyle Flood, the Scarlet Knights have remained competitive. They were 9-4 in 2012 but stumbled to 6-7 last season.

Despite these middling results against lesser competition, Rutgers remained attractive to the Big Ten Conference. Smith admitted the school’s location in New Jersey, as part of the New York City market, still remains a factor in Rutgers’ inclusion to the league.

“The East Coast, obviously from a market point of view, is huge for us,” Smith. “We have to have a presence on the East Coast and Penn State needed some partners on the East Coast. Rutgers does that.”

Even when another athletic director within the Big Ten Conference defends the inclusion of Rutgers from an academic and athletic standpoint, the school’s location still remains the No. 1 reason they were invited. After all, the Scarlets Knights are expected to finish last in the Big Ten’s eastern division.