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Big Ten considers freshman ineligibility |

Big Ten considers freshman ineligibility

| Friday, February 20, 2015 5:36 p.m
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State wide receiver Saeed Blacknall (13) can't hold onto a pass against Michigan State safety Tony Lippett on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.

The Big Ten is asking its member schools to examine whether freshman athletes, particularly in football and men’s basketball, should be ineligible, according to a statement from the conference to

Freshmen have been eligible for varsity competition since 1972. Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said although she considers it a “critical question” worthy of discussion, she supports allowing freshmen to compete.

“I don’t like (freshman ineligibility) because I think it’s unfair to the kids that do have the ability to take it on,” Barbour said in a radio interview earlier in the week.

She acknowledged a need to examine questions about athletes’ “preparedness” when they arrive as freshmen and to ask, “What kind of time do they have to truly be students?”

Acting Pitt athletic director Randy Juhl said the matter has not been discussed among university administrators and does not know whether it has been a “formal discussion” in the ACC.

“Undoubtedly there are student-athletes who would benefit from an extra year to grow accustomed to the college routine,” he said. “But there are a lot of athletes who can do that quite easily, as well.”

Juhl said 391 of Pitt’s 475 athletes will be honored for achieving at least a 3.0 GPA.

“That tells me from that point of view it’s not a big issue,” he said. “I’m going to be interested in hearing the conversation. It’s just not at the top of the list of things that need to be fixed right away.”

The student newspaper at Maryland reported this week the Big Ten is circulating a document called “A Year of Readiness” that examines the freshman ineligibility issue for football and men’s basketball players.

According to “The Diamondback,” Maryland’s athletic council met Thursday to discuss the document.

The issue, which only recently came to light, embraces a host of questions. One pertains to a potential increase in scholarships. That was the first thing on the mind of West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins when asked for his opinion Friday.

If freshman ineligibility came to pass, he said, “They’ve got to give us more scholarships.”

In interviews with, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said he has discussed the issue with other commissioners and “serious conversations” will take place, and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said there is “growing interest” in debating the matter.

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter@BCohn_Trib.

Categories: PennState
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