BLOOMINGTON – As the debate over athletes’ rights and the NCAA’s amateurism model burns hot across college athletes, Indiana is preparing to introduce sweeping reforms.
The Indiana University athletic department will immediately begin implementing a 10-point student-athlete bill of rights, athletics director Fred Glass told The Star this week.
Among the benefits, Indiana will now guarantee multiyear scholarships to full-scholarship athletes, offer significant financial support to former athletes who wish to return to IU to finish their degrees, increase its healthcare commitments to all athletes and provide all athletes with personal iPads.
The idea materialized after a recent conversation between Glass and the parents of a volleyball recruit. Glass was struck by how little the parents knew of the benefits and guarantees of a scholarship.
“It just started me reflecting on the fact that I didn’t think we had done a very good job of communicating what the benefits were of being a student-athlete,” Glass told The Star.
Glass sat down by a pool over spring break and began sketching what he has come to call an Indiana student-athlete bill of rights.
Some aspects are just clarifications of existing policies and some are innovative enough that Glass hopes other athletic departments might soon follow Indiana’s lead. The benefits could eventually cost millions of dollars per year but Glass believes the benefits far exceed the costs.
“I think it’s a big deal,” Glass said. “Nobody’s ever done this.”
The biggest talking points from the bill of rights are as follows:
• Indiana will offer what Glass calls the “Hoosiers for Life” program, a lifetime degree guarantee “open to any former student-athlete who was eligible for at least two seasons, left IU in good standing, did not transfer and is readmitted under university rules.”
IU will cover tuition, books and fees for any former athletes who wish to return and complete their degree.
• Indiana will commit to multiyear scholarships instead of year-to-year renewals traditionally used in college athletics. Multiyear scholarships were approved by the NCAA in 2011, though most schools still employ the year-to-year format.
All full-scholarship sports at Indiana (men’s and women’s basketball, football, volleyball and women’s tennis) will offer multiyear scholarships. Players in sports that offer partial scholarships will still agree to terms on a yearly basis but the amount can’t be reduced “for reasons of illness, injury (or) because they’re not good enough,” Glass said.