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Nearly 50,000 weigh in on DI time demands

Council-sponsored survey includes input from stakeholders across division

In an NCAA survey of nearly 50,000 Division I college coaches, athletics administrators and student-athletes, respondents dissected how college athletes spend their time and offered feedback on how to ensure the demands of academics, competition, practice and travel are managed fairly.

The vast majority of respondents – 44,058, or 89 percent of respondents – were Division I college athletes.

The survey identified several areas of consensus in which college athletes, coaches and administrators agree. Those include:

  • Requiring a minimum of eight hours overnight between countable athletically related activities periods.
  • Mandating a no-activity period at the end of the competition season received strong support from athletics administrators and student-athletes. Overall, a majority of coaches also support this concept; however, within some sports, a majority of coaches did not support this idea.
  • Maintaining the requirement of a minimum of two days off per week out of season.
  • Allowing student-athletes to take a period of no activity outside the playing season to     participate in an educational or career development opportunity. (A majority of college athletes and coaches would prefer this opportunity be limited to two to four weeks).
  • Limiting the number of contests during exam periods.

The findings put the Division I Council, along with the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences, one step closer to addressing the time demands of Division I sports on student-athletes.

“The Council’s commitment to enhancing and improving the undergraduate experience for our student-athletes, on and off the playing surface, is as strong as it’s ever been,” said Jim Phillips, Council chair and vice president for athletics and recreation at Northwestern University. “Our young men and women continue to respond to our inquiries in staggering numbers to help inform and guide our decision-making. The results of this survey will allow us to consider feedback from administrators, coaches, faculty representatives and, most importantly, the student-athletes, in order to help determine the best course of action moving forward.”

The survey comes in the wake of the Council’s February meeting, where members discussed taking a thorough, methodical approach that included input from Division I athletics directors, senior woman administrators, faculty athletics representatives, coaches, compliance officers and others. The survey assessed a range of concepts proposed to play a role in ensuring student-athletes have the time needed to balance their lives and succeed academically, athletically and socially.

Since the Council was created last year as part of a restructuring of Division I, improving the student-athlete experience has been among its goals.

The survey, conducted online in February and March, included sport-specific questions and identified potential solutions for various concerns including countable athletically related activities, competition time demands, out-of-season time demands, academics and travel.

Results from the Council-sponsored survey supplement data from the 2015 NCAA Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College study and the December 2015 Division I SAAC survey, which helped spearhead the conversation on time demands and identify potential areas of improvement. The initial findings from those surveys were discussed at the 2016 NCAA Convention in January. As part of a resolution adopted by the autonomy group at the Convention, the topic of time demands was referred for further study, which led to the recent collaboration. 

Dustin Page, co-chair of the Division I SAAC, is a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University who played soccer as an undergraduate and is now a law student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said he is encouraged by the record number of responses student-athletes provided for both time demands surveys and believes student-athletes have collectively identified target areas for Division I to consider.

“The recent Council-sponsored time demands survey represents the next step forward in tackling one of the biggest problems facing Division I athletics right now,” Page said. “The feedback that the division has received from student-athletes, coaches and administrators will serve as the platform for proposals to come in the next legislative cycle.”

The Council and five conferences with the ability to propose and adopt rules in many of the areas touched by the survey will base future proposals on its results. The division plans to bring forward a number of proposals in this area for a vote at the 2017 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Additional proposals will be introduced in future legislative cycles.

Legislative concepts must be submitted to the national office by Sept.  1 for consideration in the 2016-17 voting cycle.