Big Ten to Provide Further Initiatives to Increase Graduation Rates
Big news came from the Big Ten on Wednesday. In an effort to further support student-athlete graduation rates, the conference announced that any athlete recruited to a Big Ten school via scholarship will be guaranteed that scholarship for the entirety of his or her collegiate career, and that select student-athletes will be able to return to their universities if their studies are interrupted. This initiative makes the Big Ten the first major collegiate athletic conference to promise four-year scholarships. This applies to all sports, not just cash cows such as basketball and football. More specifically, athletic scholarships will “neither be reduced nor cancelled provided he or she remains a member in good standing with the community, the university and the athletics department.” If a student-athlete leaves a school for a “bona fide reason, that student-athlete may return to the institution at any time to complete his or her degree with the assistance of an athletic scholarship.” The announcement comes after Big Ten athletic directors, senior women administrators, and faculty representatives met earlier this week. The release notes that Penn State student-athletes earned an 88 percent graduation success rate in 2013, 7 percent higher than the national Division I average. Ninety-six percent of all Nittany Lion student-athletes earn degrees. The Big Ten provides $200 million dollars in aid to over 9,000 student-athletes on 350 teams across 42 sports.