CHICAGO — Big Ten rule that limits transfers from earning athletics scholarships from multiple league institutions won’t change despite a recent rule waiver, Wisconsin Athletics Director Barry Alvarez said Wednesday.
“We talked a little bit about it,” Alvarez said at the Big Ten’s annual meetings in Chicago. “The rules won’t change.”
Former Iowa recruit Ben Brust was released from his basketball scholarship at Iowa in April after the school fired former coach Todd Lickliter. Brust, a guard from Mundelein, Ill., sought to play basketball at another Big Ten school, but was denied. The league’s inter-conference transfer rule prohibits athletes from obtaining a scholarship after signing a letter of intent to play for another Big Ten school.
Brust sought a waiver to the rule, and Iowa wrote a letter to the league on his behalf. But the Big Ten’s academics and eligibility subcommittee denied Brust’s request for a waiver. Brust, through Wisconsin, appealed the ruling and it was granted. He then committed to play basketball at Wisconsin.
The waiver concerned many coaches and athletics directors, who now wonder if the rule is binding or could open up the league to potential litigation.
“I think that’s the question that we have to ask ourselves,” Northwestern Athletics Director Jim Phillips said. “Have we now, as a league, opened up series of new opportunities that didn’t exist? We’ve been pretty steadfast in how we dealt with inter-conference transfers and the rule was pretty clear. Now we may have stepped into an area isn’t quite as clear as we’ve been.”
The league coaches said the ruling generated heavy discussion in their meetings. One person, who requested anonymity, described the basketball meetings as heated and intense.
“The rule was in effect and was in effect for a long time,” Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan said. “How the process worked and all that, I’m not somebody that knows everything about the rules that way. I don’t think anybody really did. But what transpired on this is an individual family making a decision, and it was in their hands. Everything else that happened was through the Big Ten.”