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IU: A move in right direction

Ripples in a pond. That's what this is, right?

A bunch of student-athletes at Northwestern get their backs up and votes to unionize, for the excellent reason that they're essentially a workforce and workforces have the right to organize ...

... and at the same time, another bunch of student-athletes is filing a class-action suit against the NCAA because the NCAA is using their images for fun and profit without cutting them in on the deal ...

... and suddenly the Big Ten is saying, y'know, maybe we ought to make our athletic scholarships four-year deals instead of one-year renewables ...

... culminating in what happened in Bloomington today, which was the unveiling of an Indiana University Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, which includes among other things a Lifetime Degree Guarantee (i.e., IU will pay the tuition, books and fees for any scholarship student-athlete who leaves school early for a family emergency or to pursue a professional athletic career) and a Four-Year Scholarship Commitment to every full head count scholarship student-athlete.

Ripples in a pond. Spreading out and out in concentric circles, one event leading inexorably to another and on to another.

Or, not.

Or, this is just Indiana doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing. This is Indiana doing something every high-dollar Division I athletic school should have done years ago, but is perhaps only doing now because of, yes, the specter of lawsuits and organized labor getting involved in their deal.

Key word here is "perhaps."

I'd prefer to think one doesn't really have anything to do with the other, and I'm willing to give IU the benefit of the doubt in that regard. A latent sense of fairness may have simply kicked in, albeit shamefully late.

On the other hand, I'm not naive. And so I'm not dismissing the cause-and-effect, ripples-in-the-pond timing of this, either.

Bottom line is it doesn't really matter why Indiana is doing this, only that it's doing this. And one can only hope other schools follow suit -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany seems to be leading a conference-wide charge in that direction -- and turn college athletics back onto a truer course.

Because the course it's on is leading inevitably toward its demise. Speaking of ripples in a pond.

Ben Smith's blog.