The Big Ten announced Wednesday that all of its institutions will grant athletic scholarships for the entire term of an athlete’s enrollment and allow some athletes who leave school to return and finish their degrees on scholarship.
Several individual Big Ten schools had announced similar scholarship initiatives for athletes, but the league felt a policy statement was needed after its athletic directors, senior woman administrators and faculty representatives met Monday and Tuesday at league headquarters.
“It was just a matter of pulling it together,” commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com. “It’s understood that this would be more expensive, but it’s what we talked about, keeping faith with the athletes.”
The Big Ten last week announced four initial recommendations to the NCAA to improve athlete welfare: enhancing the value of scholarships to cover the full cost of education, a multiyear scholarship guarantee, ensuring that scholarships are available for life to those who leave before they complete their degrees, and improved medical coverage.
Delany said the individual schools would determine whether an athlete who leaves would qualify to return and complete his or her degree, but added that those who leave to play professional sports or to attend to family issues at home would be welcomed back.
“You want good citizens, you want people making an effort,” he said.
Asked if he expects other leagues to follow the Big Ten’s lead, Delany said, “I have no idea. I hope we’re all moving here. It’s the reason we asked for autonomy.”