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Big Ten presidents release joint statement regarding athlete welfare

In light of the ongoing Ed O'Bannon trial fighting over the rights to college athletes' name, image and likeness - and where Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany took the witness stand last week - the 14 Big Ten presidents released a joint statement Tuesday stating their position for where they'd like to steer college athletics moving forward. (Pac-12 presidents did the same thing a month ago.)

"The best solutions rest not with the courts, but with us – presidents of the very universities that promote and respect the values of intercollegiate competition," the statement reads. "Writing on behalf of all presidents of the Big Ten Conference, we must address the conflicts that have led us to a moment where the conversation about college sports is about compensation rather than academics."

While pointing out that a tiny minority of college athletes go on to carve out a career in professional sports, Big Ten presidents pledged the following: 

- Guaranteeing four-year scholarships, regardless of the students' ability to compete on the field. "We want our students to graduate," the statement reads. USC announced yesterday it would now offer four-year scholarships in football and both men's and women's basketball. 

- Guaranteeing even if a student leaves school early to pursue a professional career. A player could play in the NFL for 15 years or 15 minutes, either way his scholarship is waiting for him when he hangs 'em up. "Again, we want our students to graduate."

- Provide improved medical care for student-athletes. "We have an obligation to protect their health and their well-being to return for the physical demands placed upon them." 

- Provide a full cost-of-attendance scholarship. The Big Ten and its peers have stated this desire before today.

If you're wondering where this goes from here, you're not alone. No one does.

For example:

Again, beefing up its scholarship package is nice, but it may come a day late and a dollar (so to speak) short in terms of the O'Bannon trial. 

This ongoing debate has may twists and turns still ahead, but Tuesday's letter was a step in the right direction for the establishment.