Big Ten Leaders Issue Statement Opposing Athlete Unions, Propose Reforms
By Jeff Bossert
Administrators of all 14 Big Ten schools have asked the NCAA to implement reforms to college athletics, while opposing unions or compensation for college athletes.
University of Illinois Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Purdue University President Mitch Daniels are among the Big Ten leaders who say college athletics are 'under fire', citing the fight for collective barganing rights from football players at Northwestern University.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the leaders say the solution should lie with universities, not the courts.
"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 conversation rather than academics," the note reads.
Their proposals include:
-The guaranteeing of 4-year scholarships, even if a student can no longer compete.
-If a student-athlete leaves for a pro career before graduating, the guarantee of a scholarship remains firm.
-Reviewing rules and provide improved, consistent medical insurance for student athletes.
The statement notes that football and men's basketball are the main revenue sports for the Big Ten Conference, and if revenue from those sports is used to pay players, they say other non-revenue sports like swimming and lacrosse would suffer under what they call a 'pay to play' system.
The statement reads that ‘professionalizing’ specific sports will bring about likely unintended consequences, and undermine the educational foundation of these programs.
Urbana Chancellor Wise was away from campus Tuesday, and couldn't immediately be reached for comment.