Give Indiana athletic director Fred Glass and the university a little bit of credit for being out front of what will likely be a trend repeated by many other Division I universities in the coming weeks.
The Indiana student-athlete Bill of Rights that was unveiled Friday afternoon is filled with language that makes the university's commitment to its athletes increasingly clear.
Here is the quick-and-easy look at the commitment set forth by Indiana in the student-athlete document.
1. IU is promising a four-year athletic scholarship
This is a big deal. Generally, scholarships have been awarded on a one-year, renewable basis. But technically if you were on scholarship and the school decided that it wasn't working out there were ways by which they could show you the door. One of those ways was to not renew your scholarship. Under this new announcement, an athletic scholarship is for four years. The only way it is broken is if the athlete leaves on his own, is ruled ineligible by the NCAA or is dismissed because of a team or rules violation. But there is language here that makes a few things perfectly clear and weighs in the benefit of the athlete. The policy states that no athletic scholarship will be reduced "because of injury, illness, physical or mental condition, or on the basis of a student-athlete's ability, performance or contribution to the team's success.'' That's a major breakthrough for student athletes.
2. IU is looking to bridge the gap in terms of cost of education
Cost of education is what is left over for the student-athlete to pay when costs are incurred above and beyond what the scholarship allows for. IU is seeking approval from the NCAA to provide athletes with compensation to cover the cost of education. This would be a major step if approved.
3. Indiana is looking to provide athletes with a lifetime guarantee by which they can return and get their degrees.
The rule here is that you have to have been at Indiana for at least two seasons and left the school in good academic standing. So the one-and-done player would not be covered but now there's extra incentive if you're there two years to keep your grades up before you leave. Basically, athletes can return at any time and still be able to receive an IU undergraduate degree. Now, there are a few conditions. The program is open to any scholarship student-athlete that left early to tend to a family emergency, pursue a professional athletics career or other reasons. It does not apply to transfers, however, so it wouldn't work for an athlete like Tre Roberson in football or Remy Abell recently in basketball.
4. IU will carefully monitor the physical well being of its athletes
This just spells out the level of care that athletes are provided. Every incoming student-athlete is given,without charge, a comprehensive physical medical exam before beginning practice or competition, including a CBC blood test, sickle cell test, screening echocardiogram, concussion baseline test, and the like. According to the Bill of Rights, while at IU the department provides medical, dental, vision, psychological, rehabilitation, and related necessary health care services for any injuries or illnesses relating to their participation in intercollegiate athletics at no cost to the student-athlete or his or her family. IU has a certified athletic trainer and/or medical doctor available for every team practice and competition. Two full-time certified sports nutritionists provide individual and team based nutrition wellness support and education and oversee a full Training Table available to all student athletes plus nutrition centers of meals and snacks available throughout the day, all conveniently served on the athletics campus.
5. IU remains committed to academic support
Students have full access to the D. Ames Shuel Academic Center. Student-athletes have free access to tutors, mentors, study planning, study tables, personality assessments, major and career development programming, learning assessments and services, disability support services, and the like according to the document. All athletes also receive a free Ipad.
There are a few other details in the plan as well but the bottom line is that Indiana is out in front in what will likely be vehicle that many other schools choose to adopt.
Once again, Glass and his staff should be commended for taking such an important first step.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch