Rashod Bateman, the reigning Big Ten Receiver of the Year, wants another chance to play for the Gophers after opting out because of coronavirus concerns earlier this year.
Bateman has returned to school and is practicing with the team, and the Gophers are working on a waiver so he can play this season, coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement Friday.
Bateman, a third-team All-America selection last fall as a sophomore, chose not to play in 2020 back on Aug. 4, citing concerns with the coronavirus pandemic and wanting to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. He then signed with agent Blake Baratz of IFA. The Big Ten Conference later canceled all fall sports.
But now that the conference reversed its decision and will start a nine-game season Oct. 23-24, Bateman wants back and is enrolled at the University for this fall semester, per online records.
“Rashod and I have had many positive conversations since the Big Ten announced it was going to compete in football this fall,” Fleck’s statement said. “Rashod initially opted out because of personal health concerns surrounding COVID-19, but now feels comfortable rejoining the team after the Big Ten announced the safety measures it was taking to protect student-athletes, which includes daily antigen testing.
“Rashod is enrolled in school and has been given a waiver to practice with the team, which he did so today.
“The process for him to be granted a waiver to compete this fall is a bit more complex, but our compliance office is working closely with the NCAA and Big Ten to come to a resolution. It is our hope that Rashod will be able to represent Minnesota as a student-athlete this fall.”
Several college players opted out of the season in the past month, and many now find themselves in the same situation as Bateman. Signing with an agent terminates a player’s collegiate eligibility, so Bateman likely would need to go through the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Reinstatement Process.
Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and was a key cog in the Gophers offense, along with quarterback Tanner Morgan.