In case you missed it, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany released a 12-page paper Friday, on behalf of the conference, essentially arguing that athletes should sit out during their freshman year for educational purposes.
“If we could send a reasonable yet unmistakable signal that intercollegiate athletics prioritizes education over athletics, why would we not do so?” Delany wrote.
While it’s not a formal proposal, more of a letter to the editor-esque report, the conference made key points outlining how many colleges have become farms for producing professional athletes.
It’s the era of one-and-done.
Academics are taking the backseat, and that needs to change. No doubt about it.
Nearly 98 percent of college athletes don’t go pro, and there needs to be a different mindset in money-making programs.
It must be noted, at no point does it say freshman are ineligible. It does say, however, players need a “year of readiness.”
Take that as you may — it’s all just lawyer-esque diction.
To cover costs, the plan would be to raise scholarship limits in football and men’s basketball, the two sports that have the lowest graduation rate, and also create additional scholarships in women’s sports in compliance with Title IX.
Athletes still would be eligible to play for four seasons and freshmen can practice with their teams.
The label student-athlete has become a façade. There’s no way around it.
The report highlights the NCAA is at a “critical moment.”
“Disagree as we may with such an assertion, the importance of the criticism cannot be overstated,” Delany wrote. “If we cannot defend — through an examination of actions and results as opposed to words — that education is the paramount factor in our decision-making process (rivaled only by the health and safety of our student athletes), then the enterprise stands as a house of cards.”
The Big Ten said it has no intention of implementing the plan, and many colleges aren’t on board with the idea.
What a bold report to publish during a time where schools like Kentucky are pumping out seven freshman NBA draftees.
The ideas behind the report are wonderful, but unfortunately I doubt we will ever see this model come to life.
Look at the debacle the University of North Carolina is in with it’s notorious “paper classes” which boost grades during the summer, essentially allowing athletes to get C’s and D’s during their sports seasons making eligibility easy.
Making an athlete sit out a year won’t fix the underlying issue — athletics run supreme at many universities, not education.
The commissioner is right saying that taking a year would provide academic progress. On top of that, it would allow the students to grow personally as 18- or 19-years old in a college environment.
The NCAA system is broken on professional sports, but that doesn’t mean it will get fixed any time soon.
The Big Ten is taking a stance, unafraid of the blow back.
This paper hopes more to create discussion more than anything else, and that should be applauded.
“Let the national discussion begin,” Delany concluded.
Jordan Morey is the sports editor for The Tribune. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.