Coach P.J. Fleck confirmed in a statement that Bateman, the Big Ten's wide receiver of the year in 2019, received a waiver to participate in practice but will need another to play in games during the fall season. Fleck said Bateman opted out because of health concerns around 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."
The Big Ten on Wednesday announced it will start the fall football season during the weekend of Oct. 23-24 and have daily antigen testing at all programs by the end of the month. The league initially postponed the fall football season Aug. 11.
Bateman on Aug. 4 announced he was opting out of the season to begin preparing for the NFL draft. He cited uncertainty around health and safety as a primary reason for his decision.
Because Bateman signed with an agent, he needs a waiver from the NCAA to compete with Minnesota this season. Fleck on Friday called the competition waiver process "a bit more complex" but said Minnesota is working with both the Big Ten and NCAA to "come to a resolution."
Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and was named an AP third-team All-American. He has 111 receptions for 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons with Minnesota, setting team records for both most receiving yards by a freshman and by a sophomore.
ESPN's Mel Kiper ranks Bateman as the No. 10 overall prospect for the 2021 NFL draft.