Big Ten presidents endorse four-year, full-cost scholarships

The Big Ten would like to continue scholarships to athletes who leave early for pro careers. (USATSI)
The Big Ten would like to continue scholarships to athletes who leave early for pro careers. (USATSI)

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There's never been much question about where the Big Ten has stood on the question of full-cost of attendance scholarships or guaranteed four-year scholarships, which Jim Delany has supported on multiple previous occasions.

But with the Pac-12 presidents recently establishing exactly where they stood as the O'Bannon trial loomed, the Big Ten's presidents and chancellors have now followed suit with the O'Bannon trial ongoing. Each of the league's 14 top officials signed a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, one stressing "the value of establishing a 21st century system to meet the educational needs of current and future student-athletes."

"The best solutions rest not with the courts, but with us – presidents of the very universities that promote and respect the values of intercollegiate competition," the statement reads. "Writing on behalf of all presidents of the Big Ten Conference, we must address the conflicts that have led us to a moment where the conversation about college sports is about compensation rather than academics."

The meat of the presidents' policy endorsements:

• 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.

The proposal to guarantee the scholarship of athletes who leave early is one that not even the Pac-12 cited specifically, though those presidents did express their desire to "guarantee scholarships for enough time to complete a bachelor's degree, provided that the student remains in good academic standing."

The full text of the Big Ten presidents' statement is available at the Big Ten Network's site here.

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