The Daily Northwestern

Big Ten exploring option of freshman ineligibility

Alex Putterman, Web Editor

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The Big Ten is considering making freshmen ineligible to compete in football and men’s basketball, according to The Diamondback, Maryland’s student newspaper.

A document titled “A Year of Readiness,” in which the ineligibility option is explored, is being passed through the conference in hopes of feedback from its member institutions regarding the issue.

The document, obtained by The Diamondback, suggests freshman ineligibility would improve academic performance, which is lowest in men’s basketball and football.

The Big Ten’s proposal would essentially eliminate “one-and-done” college basketball careers and theoretically increase the need for college athletes in revenue sports to focus on academics. It could, however, motivate elite high school players to compete abroad before declaring for the NBA Draft, instead of attending college. NBA rules stipulate that all players who enter the league must be 19 years old and at least one year removed from high school.

The NCAA lifted its previous ban on freshman eligibility in 1972.

Nick Hadley, chairman of Maryland’s athletic council, told The Diamondback freshman ineligibility would be discussed at a Big Ten meeting early next week.

A Northwestern athletic department spokesman declined to comment.

Multiple conference commissioners have already spoken publicly about the issue. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBSSports.com there is “growing interest” for the idea. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott also told CBSSports.com that he has discussed the issue with several commissioners, and more serious conversations on freshman ineligibility will be forthcoming.

In a statement issued to ESPN.com, the Big Ten said it hopes to gauge interest from its schools about a “national discussion regarding a year of readiness for student-athletes.”

This post was updated Thursday at 8:32 p.m.

Email: asputt@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AlexPutt02

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