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DI student-athletes to have more time away from sports

New guidelines require time management plan for each sport, time off from athletics

Division I student-athletes will have more guaranteed time to use how they’d like, starting in the 2017-18 academic year.

On Friday, student-athletes and other representatives of schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences approved several measures aimed at helping their student-athletes have more discretionary time if they want it. The votes came just days after the Division I Council approved other measures with the same goal.

Former University of Oklahoma college athlete Ty Darlington, whose impassioned pleas on the floor last year were credited in part with spurring action, said he was encouraged by the urgency he saw during the past year.

“It’s about owning your time. Coaches need to understand that student-athletes aren’t on call at all times,” Darlington said. “This is about changing the perception of coaches: Our time is our time.”

The changes are the result of a division-wide effort to provide students with the opportunity to better balance their athletics and academic commitments. The changes adopted Friday:

  • Require the creation of a time management plan for each sport and an annual review of that plan.
  • Prohibit athletically related activities during a continuous eight-hour period between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Require a seven-day break after the season and 14 additional days off during the regular academic year when classes are in session. The group approved some activities that can occur on those days off — return travel in limited circumstances and life skills activities that involve multiple sports.
  • Require a day off per week during preseason and vacation periods.
  • Prohibit off-campus practice during vacation periods outside the championship season and unrelated to away-from-home competition.

An additional amendment that would have allowed recruiting activities to occur on days off failed.

Before voting began, Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and chair of the Division I Board of Directors, reminded the group that the proposals up for consideration were informed by a survey of more than 28,000 college athletes.

“We need to keep moving forward, continuously reflecting and re-examining ourselves to make sure that we are doing what is necessary to provide the optimal experience for our student-athletes,” Kaler said. He congratulated the voters on their significant accomplishment.

All of the proposals addressing time commitments will be effective Aug. 1.

Friday’s votes by the five autonomy conferences fulfill a promise made a year ago to address the issue of time commitments by this month. The remaining schools and conferences in Division I can decide individually whether to adopt the proposals.

The schools and student-athletes also approved a measure that allows schools to make scholarships awarded in the middle of a term retroactive to the beginning of the academic year instead of requiring the scholarships to be prorated. The rule change will make it easier to provide additional funding for students, regardless of when the decision is made to provide a scholarship.

The measure will be effective Aug. 1.