Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman will play with the Golden Gophers in 2020 after initially opting out of the season, the program announced on Wednesday.
"I want to thank the NCAA, Big Ten and our compliance office for working together and coming to a resolution that restored Rashod's eligibility and allows him to play this fall," coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. "Rashod represents everything that is right about college football, and I am filled with joy for him. He has always wanted to be a Gopher and now has the opportunity to wear a Minnesota jersey again. Rashod is one of the best football players in the nation, but he's even a better person, teammate, and son."
Earlier in September, Fleck confirmed in a statement that Bateman re-enrolled in school and received a waiver to practice with the team. To play in games this fall, the junior wide receiver had to be granted a second waiver. Fleck cited that Bateman felt comfortable to return due to the Big Ten's safety measures, including daily antigen testing.
On Sept. 16, the Big Ten announced its plan to start the fall football season on the weekend of Oct. 23-34 after initially postponing the campaign. The conference cited "daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition," as reasons behind its choice to play.
Bateman announced his plan to opt out this season on Aug. 4—one week before the Big Ten originally decided not to play this fall. He said he would declare for the 2021 NFL draft, but cited COVID-19 concerns as his main reason for sitting out. Bateman signed with an agent following his decision, making his return to Minnesota complicated.
NCAA rules prohibit athletes from signing with representation, so Bateman needed the association's approval to play.
In his return, Bateman will go from jersey No. 13 to 0 as a "call to action to end racism in our society" and to represent "that there is zero tolerance for racism in our culture."
In 2019, Bateman was named the Big Ten Receiver of the Year and a First Team All-Big Ten pick after he tallied 60 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns.