The start of the fall semester is an exciting time for student-athletes and fans alike. It represents the start of a new year, full of possibilities both on the field and in the classroom. Student-athletes are moving into their dorms, kicking off their first practices and preparing for the new academic year.
Student-athletes in all three divisions across the nation are joining their peers in new classes, with many of them fresh from summer internships or study abroad trips.
Many student-athletes earn their undergraduate degrees before exhausting their athletics eligibility and continue to pursue graduate level degrees. In the most recent academic year, more than 19,131 student-athletes had already earned their undergraduate degrees.
Indeed, for the great majority of student-athletes, most will go pro in something other than sports.
As it works to help student-athletes be successful on the field, in the classroom and in life, the NCAA has several measuring tools to track and improve the academic success of student-athletes.
Division I Governance Reform
Earlier this summer, Division I adopted a new governance model intended to preserve Division I and better support student-athletes. The restructuring process was presidentially led, membership-driven and included voices from all different segments of the division. The end result is a simpler, easy-to-navigate structure that allows for more participation opportunities for key decision-makers and gives a vote to student-athletes for the first time. As part of the new structure, a group of schools in the five highest-resourced conferences were given the flexibility to make rules that will better allow them to use their resources to benefit student-athletes. The new structure will be fully implemented by mid-2015.
Each of those sport’s rules committees met last winter to recommend changes to improve the quality of play and enhance student-athlete safety. These recommendations were approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel and are now official rules changes effective for the 2014 season.
As members head back to school this fall, the NCAA marks just over a year since Division I adopted sweeping changes to the infractions process. Those changes were made to hold schools and administrators accountable for issues that directly affect fairness and integrity in college sports. Investigations currently underway and cases with the DI Committee on Infractions will begin to use more meaningful penalties that align with the significance of the wrongdoing.
As President Mark Emmert noted in his letter to campus and conference leaders this summer, the enforcement staff is as busy as ever conducting approximately 100 investigations. Additionally, the staff:
- Has been spending time on campuses around the country, acquainting themselves with day-to-day activities on campus and fostering relationships with compliance staff.
- Has provided notice of 64 Level I, Level II or major allegations across 14 cases
- Anticipates providing notice of at least 50 additional Level I or Level II allegations across seven cases
- Projects that the Division I Committee on Infractions could have at least one hearing each month for most of the 2014-15 academic year
Health and Safety
The NCAA has taken a leadership role with several important health and safety related initiatives. In May, the NCAA and U.S. Department of Defense announced a landmark $30 million joint initiative that will include the most comprehensive study of concussion and head impact exposure ever conducted. Additionally, the NCAA recently endorsed a sweeping round of inter-association guidelines designed to support best-practice guidelines regarding football practice contact limits, independent medical care for student-athletes, and diagnosis and management of sport-related concussions.
The NCAA in late July also announced it will provide $70 million for concussion testing and diagnosis of current and former NCAA student-athletes as a part of its agreement to settle claims in several consolidated concussion-related class actions.
Schools submitted photos highlighting the arrival of new team gear, new facilities, move-in days and the start of practice.