Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman is officially back with the Gophers. And he’ll have a new number as a statement against racism.
The school said Wednesday that Bateman had been cleared by the NCAA to rejoin the team after he had opted out of the postponed season. When Bateman opted out of the season to prep for the NFL draft, he had signed with an agent. That move typically ends an athlete’s college eligibility. But the Big Ten’s rescheduled season means that the NCAA is smartly showing leniency for players who had said they wouldn’t play in a potential spring season.
“I want to thank the NCAA, Big Ten and our compliance office for working together and coming to a resolution that restored Rashod’s eligibility and allows him to play this fall,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement.
“Rashod represents everything that is right about college football and I am filled with joy for him. He has always wanted to be a Gopher and now has the opportunity to wear a Minnesota jersey again. Rashod is one of the best football players in the nation, but he’s even a better person, teammate and son.”
Bateman changes to No. 0
Bateman previously wore No. 13 with Minnesota. With the NCAA now allowing players to wear No. 0 this season, he’s going to wear that number as a statement that racism should be eradicated.
“I am also proud of Rashod for utilizing his platform to encourage social change,” Fleck wrote. “This season he will be wearing No. 0, which represents that there is zero tolerance for racism in our culture and is a call to action to end racism in our society.”
Bateman had 60 catches for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019 as Minnesota went 11-2 and beat Auburn in the Outback Bowl. With Bateman and QB Tanner Morgan back in 2020, the Gophers should have one of the best quarterback-receiver combinations in the country.
– – – – – – –
Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
More from Yahoo Sports: