University President Mark Yudof proposed two new policies for student-athletes at the annual State of the University address on Sept. 30. He proposes to declare freshmen who play on the men’s basketball team ineligible and to freeze scholarships for athletes who leave in poor academic standing. These policies will ensure that athletes understand their academic priorities and help the University to avoid future academic scandals.
College basketball is one of the most competitive sports, and often the athletes have obligations that interfere with their schoolwork. By declaring freshmen ineligible, schools demonstrate to athletes that their academic obligations are as important as their athletic obligations. It will also help them to focus on their schoolwork, which is easily ignored by athletes’ schedules. The proposal to freeze scholarship money when athletes leave school in poor academic standing will remind the University of its obligation to educate its athletes.
Though the NCAA has rejected proposals to make freshmen athletes ineligible, Yudof and other Big Ten officials could easily persuade the association that freshman ineligibility and scholarship freezes would be prudent policies to ensure that athletes receive a solid education.