Per release from the Big Ten offices:
The Big Ten Conference announced today three current and former student-athletes from its member institutions to serve as representatives of the conference's nearly 9,500 student-athletes as part of the NCAA's new Division I autonomy governance structure.
The Big Ten student-athlete representatives are Minnesota graduate and former football student-athlete Chris Hawthorne, Northwestern junior women's soccer student-athlete Nandi Mehta and Purdue senior men's golfer Ben-Marvin Egel. Hawthorne is a former member of the Big Ten Commission on Student-Athlete Issues and is currently the Big Ten representative for the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, while Mehta and Egel are current members of the Big Ten Commission on Student-Athlete Issues.
"These three individuals are quality representatives of their respective institutions and embody the true essence of being a student-athlete," University of Iowa President and Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors chair Sally Mason said. "We are proud of their commitment to representing all of the student-athletes across the conference."
"The inclusion of the student-athlete voice and vote in the autonomy structure is critical, and we are excited to have three distinguished representatives from Big Ten institutions who were selected by their peers to serve in this role," Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany said. "This is an important and historic moment for college athletics, and we have no doubt that Chris, Nandi and Ben-Marvin will successfully represent all of the conference's student-athletes."
Hawthorne, Mehta and Egel will hold voting power on proposed governance rule changes and will represent the conference's student-athletes as part of the NCAA's mission to "engage and empower student-athletes by giving them both a voice and vote within a transparent decision-making process."
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted last August to restructure how schools and conferences govern themselves, paving the way for student-athletes to have a voice - and a vote - at every level of decision-making.
The new model grants flexibility to schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences to change rules for themselves in a list of specific areas within Division I. The legislative process for these 65 schools includes the three student-athlete representatives from each conference who will vote on rule changes.
Hawthorne wrapped up his career as a Minnesota placekicker in 2013. The Raleigh, N.C., native was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and was named a finalist for the 2013 Wuerffel Trophy, which honors the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with outstanding academic and athletic achievement. He graduated with his bachelor's degree in business and marketing in December 2013. Hawthorne currently serves as the Bowling Green State University Falcon Club Director.
Mehta is co-captain of the Wildcats' women's soccer team and co-president of the Northwestern Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Majoring in economics and international studies, and pursuing a certificate in managerial analytics from the Kellogg School, Mehta is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and was selected as a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. The Lexington, Mass., native was named one of five recipients of the 2014 NU For Life Kabiller Memorial Award and has dedicated innumerable hours to the community through events including Dance Marathon, Breaststroke For Breast Cancer, Field Day and youth clinics.
Egel is a senior on the Purdue's men's golf team and enjoyed a successful fall campaign, recording two top-five finishes. The Kokomo, Ind., native is an Academic All-Big Ten honoree and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar majoring in kinesiology and maintains a leadership role on the Boilermaker Athletic Council. Egel has taken an active role in the community, spending countless hours with groups such as the Purdue Dance Marathon, Purdue Cancer Challenge, John Purdue Club Thank-A-Thon, Boilermaker Street Fest, Food Finder Annual Canned Food Drive and Shoes for Haiti.
Since July 2013, the Big Ten has publicly stated its desire to continue providing student-athletes with an unmatched educational and athletic experience. On Oct. 1, the conference announced that it had notified the NCAA of initial recommendations designed to provide enhanced benefits for student-athletes that are members in good standing with their individual universities as part of the new autonomy governance structure.
On Oct. 8, the Big Ten announced that member institutions had agreed to ensure that any student-athlete recruited to a Big Ten institution through the offer of an athletic scholarship will be guaranteed the following throughout the course of their enrollment:
- The scholarship will neither be reduced nor cancelled provided he or she remains a member in good standing with the community, the university and the athletics department.
- If a student-athlete's pursuit of an undergraduate degree is interrupted for a bona fide reason, that student-athlete may return to the institution at any time to complete his or her degree with the assistance of an athletic scholarship.
The Big Ten will continue to work toward the implementation of additional student-athlete welfare proposals through individual institutional action, conference-wide action or under the NCAA autonomy governance structure, including full grant-in-aids to meet cost of education and improved medical insurance. The conference has also agreed to address additional issues such as health and safety, time demands and comprehensive academic support.