Big Ten leaders issue letter opposing athlete unions, propose reforms

Jun 25, 2014

Administrators of all 14 Big Ten schools have asked the NCAA to implement series of reforms to college athletics brought on by a labor dispute at Northwestern University.  

University of Illinois Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise is among the leaders in the conference who say college athletes are ‘under fire’, citing the fight for collective bargaining rights from football players at Northwestern. 

The leaders say the solution should lie with universities, not the courts.  Their proposals include a guarantee of 4-year scholarships, even if a student can no longer compete.

They say if an athlete leaves for a pro career before graduation, the guarantee of a scholarship should remain firm, and that schools should provide improved medical insurance for student athletes. 

The statement notes that football and men’s basketball are the main revenue sports in the Big Ten and if revenue is used to pay players, other non-revenue sports like swimming and lacrosse would suffer. 

Chancellor Wise was away from the Urbana campus Tuesday, and couldn’t be reached for comment on the statement.