The Big Ten always stressed that freshman ineligibility was never a formal proposal. Now it's looking like it might never be one.
Commissioner Jim Delany told reporters Wednesday that the conference's idea of a "Year of Readiness," which was a huge talking point back in February, was simply meant to cause discussion.
"That is not a proposal," Delany said Wednesday, his quotes published by ESPN.com. "It may never be a proposal. But is a great pivot point to have this discussion."
The idea, which involved a mandatory sit-out year for freshmen student-athletes in football and men's basketball, was met with mostly negative reaction by fans and observers when it was revealed the conference was talking about it earlier this year.
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The goals were admirable ones: to better acclimate student-athletes to the academic rigors of college without putting as much athletic pressure on them right out of the box. As Delany mentioned again Wednesday, the brass of college athletics is looking for ways to put a bigger focus on the "student" part of student-athlete. Football and men's basketball were the main focuses of the thought as they are the sports with the lowest graduation rates in the NCAA.
But the idea had and continues to have plenty of critics. Arguments against freshman ineligibility were many, and some argued that without the structure of athletics, the year away from the court/field could have the opposite effect and provide a better opportunity to slack off academically. Others wondered why it would simply apply to football and men's basketball and not all collegiate sports.
"There are those who are supportive of it," Delany said. "There are those who oppose it, but that's not the issue. The issue is whether or not we can have a broad set of national discussions."
The NCAA had a mandatory sit-out year up until the 1970s. Today, the idea of imposing such a thing strikes many as radical, especially as freshmen continue to play some of the largest roles in men's basketball, where "one and done" has become a part of the sports lexicon.
Just as the conference outlined back in February, this is not something that is close to becoming a reality, and Delany seemed to be pleased that this remains a talking point, even if the idea might not be catching on with many fans and observers.
"The most important thing is there be a discussion about how prepared the student is," Delany said, "how the school accommodates that preparedness and how it all works.
"There's no simple answer. There's no one answer. This is not an answer standing by itself. And it's not ready. It's not mature enough to be a proposal. If it were, it would be a proposal. Instead, it's an effort to encourage a discussion about the importance of education. And it's happening, so for that, we're happy."