The Big Ten conference sent out a press release on Wednesday afternoon announcing that they have notified the NCAA of changes the conference will make to student-athlete benefits. This past summer, the Big Ten, as one of the NCAA's "Power 5" conferences gained the autonomy to make decisions independent of the entire NCAA.
The changes proposed by the Big Ten are as follows:
- -Cost of Education: Redefine full grant-in-aid to meet a student-athlete’s cost of education, as determined by the federal government.
- -Multi-Year Scholarships: Guarantee all scholarships. If a student-athlete is no longer able to compete, for whatever reason, there should be no impact on institutions’ commitment to deliver an undergraduate education.
- -Lifetime Educational Commitment: Ensure that scholarships are available for life. If a student-athlete leaves a university for a professional career before graduating, whether the career materializes, and regardless of its length, the scholarship will be honored after his or her playing days are complete.
- -Medical Insurance: Provide improved, consistent medical insurance for student-athletes.
The change drawing the most initial attention is the life-time scholarship, which would allow an athlete to play professional sports, then return to school to complete his/her education at any time.
It's unclear how much effect these rule changes would have on college hockey. Certainly the six Big Ten schools would be able to offer a better potential scholarship package to recruits, but these aren't necessarily changes that will dramatically shift the balance of power in college hockey either.