IU announces new student athlete bill of rights

While he chatted with the parents of a potential volleyball recruit several weeks ago, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass realized something was missing.

Glass was surprised by questions being asked by the mother and father. They were basic in nature and at least partially confused. What happens if their daughter gets sick at school? What if she becomes injured and can’t compete?

The school would cover it, Glass explained, but the fact that he had to was a bit surprising.

“It made me realize how much we had lost the public’s awareness of things that we do in intercollegiate athletics for student athletes,” Glass said. “I’m a lawyer by training and I started thinking why don’t we put together a bill of rights? In doing so, we’ll look real hard at what we are doing, what we aren’t doing and what we think we should add.”

While the NCAA’s amateurism model remains under attack in courtrooms and in the court of public opinion, Indiana is taking a proactive step in the direction of athletes’ rights.

The university released a 10-point student-athlete bill of rights Friday, addressing areas including the cost of education, scholarship commitments and a lifetime degree guarantee, among other benefits.

Indiana is the first school to offer these additional benefits for athletes. The plan goes into effect immediately.

“From my perspective, it’s exciting to be on the forefront of something that’s never been done,” Glass said. “We want to have a real positive impact on the experiences for student athletes because we’re expanding the benefits that they receive.”

The lifetime degree guarantee is one of the central components of the bill of rights, allowing 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” to pursue a degree at IU. The university will pay for tuition, books and other fees.

“That includes someone who might be 60 years old and meets the criteria,” Glass said. “They can come back and have their tuition paid for.”

IU will also cover the cost of education through its full scholarships, paying for additional fees that are not currently covered, like orientation fees, for example. The school will also commit to four-year scholarships regardless of injury, illness or athletic performance. Four-year scholarships were allowed by the NCAA in 2011, but many schools have opted to use year-to-year scholarships.

Indiana athletes will have a collective voice in the administration, with the opportunity to meet with the athletic director every semester to ask questions and voice concerns. Athletes will also be guaranteed a spot on any search or advisory committees for hiring a new coach or athletic director.

The university will provide each athlete with “cutting edge technology” such as personal iPads. Athletes will be provided with an official IU Athletics blazer and will have internal internship opportunities.

The bill of rights also addresses health and wellness issues for every student-athlete, comprehensive academic support and “a culture of trust and respect.”

“The Student-Athlete Bill of Rights sends a profound message to IU student-athletes that our school values our voices, our education, the quality of our experience while at IU, and what we do long after our playing days are over,” field hockey player Nicole Volgraf said in a statement. “We are thrilled that our administration included us in the process of creating the Bill of Rights, and on a personal note, it was great that we got to pick out the iPads.”

Some of the costs, like the iPads and the blazers, are easy to calculate. Other areas, like the lifetime guarantee, are more difficult to figure.

“It’s hard to tell who might come back,” Glass said. “It’s a big university. We plan to fundraise for that and create an endowment, hopefully, that would raise the money to for that. Until then, we’ll find money in the operation expenses.”

Indiana’s announcement comes days after the presidents and chancellors around the Big Ten released a joint statement calling for additional benefits for student athletes. Some of the points raised included guaranteed four-year scholarships, consistent medical insurance and the need to cover the actual costs for attending college.

Glass said IU’s bill of rights was not a reaction to any particular statement or case, including the ongoing O’Bannon trial over the use of player likenesses.

“You will see that most of the major aspects that people are talking about are addressed in the bill of rights,” Glass said. “One thing I’m proud of is that here we are at Indiana University in Bloomington and we’re leading the charge on things like education trust and four-year guarantees — these things that a lot of folks are talking about, we’re actually implementing.”

3 comments

  1. This is one of the reasons (not the only) that I “proudly” tell people that I graduated from IU. I don’t care if this is the way that events seemed to be moving. IU is the school that moved first and rightly so.

  2. IUlongago, I agree! I attribute this to a highly intelligent and forward thinking Athletic Director!

  3. Yes, I too applaud this proactive step by IU and Mr. Glass. It puts pressure on other schools to match our level of commitment. And in the short tun, even though I’m sure it was not the reason Glass made the announcement, it will help our recruiting efforts.

    Should be interesting to see how many schools start doing the “me too, me too” routine.

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