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\n FILE - In this July 24, 2013, file photo, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany speaks at a news conference during the Big Ten conference football media day in Chicago. Delany, who testified Friday, June 20, 2014, in a landmark antitrust suit brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O\'Bannon and others, said the idea of paying players goes against the entire college experience and he couldn\'t see league members agreeing to it. If players were allowed to be paid, he says his conference likely would cease to exist and the Rose Bowl probably would not be played. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)\n

The Big Ten said Tuesday that it supports guaranteed four-year scholarships and improved medical coverage for its athletes.

The league announced in a statement signed Tuesday by its 14 presidents that it proposes working within the NCAA structure to provide greater academic security for its athletes by guaranteeing scholarships for four years, even if an athlete can no longer compete or has left for a professional career.

The Big Ten also said the NCAA must do "whatever it takes" to compensate athletes for the full cost of their college education as defined by the federal government -- rather than just tuition, fees and room and board.

The conference also said it would like to review the NCAA rules on medical insurance and provide more consistent coverage.

"We have an obligation to protect their health and well-being in return for the physical demands placed upon them," the league said.

The NCAA has been sued by a number of former athletes over compensation issues challenging the organization's bedrock of amateurism.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney testified last week at an antitrust trial against the NCAA filed by former UCLA star Ed O'Bannon.

The league said Delaney conveyed sentiments long supported by the conference and its members, and the Pac-12 and SEC have recently released statements closely mirroring the Big Ten's proposals.

The Big Ten also reiterated its opposition to a "pay-for-play" system for football and men's basketball players, arguing that compensating those players will "skew the overall academic endeavor" for all of its students.

The league said that using the revenue generated from football and basketball players to compensate those athletes would force member schools to reduce funding or even eliminate some non-Olympic sports while creating "intolerable" inequities.

"The amateur model is not broken, but it does require adjusting for the 21st century. Whether we pay student-athletes is not the true issue here. Rather, it is how we as universities provide a safe, rewarding and equitable environment for our student-athletes as they pursue their education," the league said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Big Ten advocates 4-year scholarships
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