Jim Delany, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference speaks during a news conference to announce a partnership with Madison Square Garden Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II
February 20, 2015

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) The Big Ten is studying whether freshmen athletes should be ineligible to compete while they adjust to college life.

The conference said Friday it has reached out to members to see if they are interested ''in beginning a national discussion regarding a year of readiness for student-athletes.''

The Big Ten says it has provided background information to its schools, but no proposals have been made.

The University of Maryland's student newspaper, The Diamondback, reported Thursday that the Big Ten has distributed a document titled ''A Year of Readiness'' that explores the idea of making freshmen ineligible in football and men's basketball.

For decades, the NCAA barred freshmen from competing in all sports. That changed for football and basketball in 1972.

In January, the Big Five conferences used their newly granted autonomy to pass NCAA legislation that increases the value of an athletic scholarship by several thousand dollars to cover the federally determined actual cost of attendance. They also passed a proposal that all schools have a written concussion protocol approved by a concussion safety protocol committee.

But freshmen eligibility remains a topic of discussion, particularly with some top men's basketball players turning pro after one year in college.

''Freshman eligibility does not fall within the areas of autonomy granted to the five conferences,'' NCAA spokesperson Michelle Hosick wrote in an email. ''Conferences are free to adopt policies that are more restrictive than the national rule.''

In May, Pac-12 presidents and chancellors sent a letter to their peers in the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 and SEC that among other things encouraged them to ''consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men's basketball'' if the NBA and its union did not agree to raise the minimum age. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he is in favor of changing the so-called ''one and done'' rule that allows college players to enter the league after one NCAA season and that he prefer an age minimum of 20 years old.

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